: views from the Hill

Friday, July 27, 2007

Book shifting

Book shifting. So here's the problem. The bookcases are, for the most part, filled with the books I intend to stay where they are.

That leaves hundreds of boxes of books to go through on my quest to let go ("Finally!" sez his nibs) of some of the books. You can't see into boxes without opening them. All the boxes of books on a given subject aren't necessarily together.

We already have twenty boxes of books or so packed up for the Coast Community Library. The older younger one will come by with his partner maybe the first weekend in August to see if any of the books in the additional nine boxes of SFF titles intended for CCL are ones they want. Let's call it thirty boxes of books boxed up and ready to shift out. ... and more than ten times that many still here, most unsorted.

I have four main areas where books in boxes (and loose now, due to the sorting) are stashed. I have too many boxes whose contents aren't easily identifiable because I didn't, back when we were packing the boxes up, always remember to label the boxes (as I do now) so that the contents labels are visible from all sides.

I have other boxes that might be labeled but are hidden by other boxes so I can't determine the content. In all I have over thirty boxes that are "unknown." I have another twenty or so that are labeled "nonfic" which need to be sorted through. I have eight that are labeled "misc" which need to be sorted through. I need to get to the "unknown" boxes and see what they might be. And I have the added twist that, due to the vagaries of the move, what is in the boxes is not necessarily as is labeled, if the box is even labeled.

Yesterday I decided that I had to get a grip on what we had, where. I spent some time counting boxes in the four areas and today I created an Excel spreadsheet (and I am so not a believer in spreadsheets) so I can get a handle on which boxes are where and what I can do to shift books around, always remembering that I don't want to end up with too many books in any one place because even though the space was built with a live load req of 40 lbs/sq foot average, you just don't want to push it and, like J Carter Brown, I think it was, have your walls started spreading out because of the load of books on the upper floors.

The purpose of this first pass is to get the nonfic and misc and whatever books rough-sorted into categories so that I can then take each category and sort it more definitively and then take those sub-sorts and figure out what stays, what goes.

So ... my box count yesterday. After feeding the data into Excel I find I have over seventy "subject" sorts of labels for the boxes, and that's even with me throwing physics and biology into a greater superset of science when I was making the book count.

Seventy subjects is about fifty too many. I'm having a problem though with sorting some titles. Are they "essay" or "memoir"? When does "memoir" segue into "autobiography"? Would "Letters" be autobiography or memoir or essay? How about if they're Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son? When do memoirs belong in history?

So I sort and sort and resort. My "reference" boxes had contained all sorts of things. My "facts" boxes had started out as trivia/factoid Uncle John's and Cecil Adams sorts of books but had wound up also including flags of the world and Amos, Amas, Amat. And around and around and around.

The gross decision is that Area 1 will contain fiction, which still needs sorting. Fiction is all that fiction stuff that isn't SFF or MYS. Area 2 will contain history & biography & autobiography & memoirs? essays? Area 3 will have SCI-related for now and JUV. Area 4 (the largest area and where I've been sorting) will get liberal arts (except history and biography) and all the stuff that needs sorting.

My kludgey spreadsheet tells me how many of what are where so I can wrap my head around how many non-fiction things are in the fiction area (24 boxes! that's not bad) and how many fiction things are elsewhere (2 ... okay).

The sheet also tells me that I have about 400 boxes of books, which (take out the thirty destined for CCL or the older younger one) means (hurray!) over half of the books moved in are either on shelves or headed out the door soon.

When I was making my notes, I didn't note how many of those 400+ boxes have already been through the primary sort, but there have been loads. Heck, I probably missed some boxes anyway, but close enough is close enough.

A light's glimmering at the end of the tunnel.

One thing, no, two things, I found day before yesterday were two identical copies of Kipfer's THE ORDER OF THINGS, an interesting book but don't ask me why I have two copies. The table of contents may help me with some of the "How do I sort out the science-related books into subcategories that will make it easy for me to see what I have?" sorts of decisions.

Does Feynman go in "essays" or in "physics" or in just what?

How do I make sure when I'm sorting through for dups that I have all the Feynmans in one place?

Odd, isn't it, that I haven't been buying many books at used bookstores or thrift shops lately?

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