Book & CD Reorganization Update # 1

As you may know from reading previous posts, I’m in the midst of reorganizing my books and media.

When I bought this place twenty some years ago, I was single, and after a year or so I hired a carpenter to build in bookcases in the second bedroom. Here in California, most homes are built on slabs, so I have no basement, the attic is a hands-and-knees affair and I needed an office-library a lot more than I did a guest room. I call the resulting space my Study. It contains an old solid walnut accountant’s desk with shelves over, two low storage cabinets with shelves over, a window seat under which are stored the extra tall books like books on art and illustration, a computer desk with shelves over, a lamp table and reading chair on the wall with the door to the room and shelves over door height to ceiling, two large bookcases and the closet door (a small walk-in that once held books but has since been claimed by Wife).

The ceilings in this place are high, on the tallest wall of the bedroom it’s sixteen feet, on the low side fourteen. I had shelves built floor to ceiling on the low wall, five feet to ceiling on the side wall, over door to ceiling on the tall wall. I knew I’d never run out of space. Ha!

On the remaining wall are the Ikea bookcases which hold the CDs. Some of them. Most of the classical CDs are in a set of shelves in an area dividing the living room and dining room. When I say most, I mean, by composer, A-M. The rest of the classical, plus all the multiple-composer compilations are in the Study. Also in the room was a spinning CD holder for rock, musicals, non-rock vocalists (think Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Diana Krall, June Christy and the like) and some soundtracks. The rest of the soundtracks were in another bookcase. (!)

I went years with just putting new purchases on a separate shelf because I’d not left any space at the end of existing shelves for additional items. Thus the CDs and the books were “mostly” organized, but frustratingly NOT organized at the same time. Arrrg!

So I made it my New Year Resolution to get things organized, and I started with the CDs.

So far, so good. I set up a large folding work table in the living room. I boxed all the CDs, cleaned the shelves, reset the ones in place to give me the maximum  storage with the minimum space above the CDs. I’m having to add shelves to the largest bookcase. It’s a little complicated because I’m reusing some shelves a neighbor gave me. Then I planned where the new shelves would fit. I’ve cut them down to the right size, but they have to be painted (they were stained). So I’ve cleaned them with a de-greasing agent which took off all the surface stain.

While that is happening the CDs, by category, came out onto the work table to be alphabetized, vocals by artist, soundtracks by film title, classical by composer and so on. Starting Saturday, while watching the Olympics I began this task. In the process I found a lot of things I hadn’t heard in a long time, but I decided if I started playing things I’d never get done so everything stayed in boxes and in order. I had little alpha stickies on the table…it was quite a process.

Meanwhile those shelves still have to be primed, then give them a final coat of paint. All for three extra shelves, but every inch counts. I’ll be working on these shelves today.

Status as of Feb 16 – CDs:

  • Non-Rock Vocals – sorted and on shelf
  • Soundtracks – sorted and mostly on shelf
  • Classical – Living room shelves re-sorted. Rest partly sorted, none on shelves.
  • Spoken Word – not begun
  • Rock – not begun
  • Jazz – still in a different, separate bookcase, not begun.

Status as of Feb 16 – Books:

  • Tall shelves (under the window seat) cleaned and books replaced large box of books donated to library.
  • all other books – not begun

That last one is the kicker.  As you can see, I am making progress but there is a long way to go. Especially when a lot of the book re-shelving must be done on a tall ladder. Ouch.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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13 Responses to Book & CD Reorganization Update # 1

  1. Carl V. says:

    It sounds like a really big job. I had to laugh when you talked about what playing music would do to interrupt the process, because that is exactly what I would have a hard time with and have had a hard time with in past reorganizations.

    You inevitably find all kinds of things that you forgot you had or hadn’t listened to/read/looked at in a long time and it is so easy to get distracted into playing with stuff instead of continuing with the organization.

    I know you’ve already started, but you should take some before and after pics. We bloggers love to see other peoples shelved treasures.

  2. Richard says:

    I wish I’d taken some before pictures, the after pictures won’t make sense – it’ll look like I didn’t do a thing. But you’re right, I should have the camera at hand. Wish I’d thought of it before!

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    We have bookcases in every room of the house–all three floors, except kitchen and bath. When you’re done there you need to visit Michigan. I have your room and bath (bookless) ready.

  4. Carl V. says:

    Even if you don’t have before, trust me, we’ll want to see ‘after’. Book lovers/collectors universally slobber when we hear or read the words “built in bookshelves”. You’ll just have to paint the picture with words of ‘before’ to go with your actual ‘after’ pictures.

  5. Richard says:

    That’s real kind of you, Patti. I’m sure all those bookcases are perfectly organized already, the mysteries by author, then by first publication date.

    There are books in every room of this house except the living room (not counting a few on an entry table). We keep the cook books in the kitchen-dining room, also the gardening books are there. The master bedroom is aflow with the things, as is the Study, of course. But I’ve kept the living room pretty book-free other than those being read at any moment. Since this is a one story, we don’t have the luxury of all that space you do.

  6. Richard says:

    Carl – we’ll see about the photos. I agree with you, I love looking at the book shelves of other people.

  7. william says:

    When you’re finished, you are welcome to do the same here. I have relatively few CDs and most of those are on my desktop, while the physical CDs are in a trunk.

    Books were once shelved by author surname, but double shelving -one book shelved in front of the other– has disrupted that. Since I tend to read new books first, this arrangement is not too troublesome until I try to search for another volume in a series issued over several years!

    Congratulations on your energy and determination.

  8. Richard says:

    More determination than energy! I’m still fooling with said shelves…

  9. Richard says:

    Seems to me I read a P.G. Wodehouse story once about a professional library cataloger, organizer, person.

  10. Carl V. says:

    Hmmm….I’ll have to look for that one, I love Wodehouse.

    That would be a job I would enjoy, going to other people’s houses and organizing their books, etc. It appeals to the voyeur in me and I am one who, no matter what else might be messy, loves a neat bookshelf.

  11. Richard says:

    Carl – I looked at those postings, pretty cool. I left a couple comments there. Here, I’m just trying to get everything organized and re-sorted. Shelves didn’t get dry today, so I have to wait until morning to sand and second coat.

  12. Art Scott says:

    Rick, one thing I didn’t see in your most interesting account — one very much apropos to my own situation — is whether you’re doing some winnowing as part of the process. When I’ve tackled similar projects I’ve usually, however reluctantly, done some de-accsessioning (as the librarians call it). It’s a heart-rending job, but sometimes you’ve got to do it.

  13. Richard says:

    Art – I guess the only mention I made of that is that is under Tall Shelves that I took a large box to the library. The “coffee table” sized books are the fewest in number and in shelf footage (about 10 ft.). I eliminated, painfully as you suggest, about a dozen books from this area, one old Sierra Club book on the John Muir trail, some of Arts&Crafts Bungalow architecture and others. I hadn’t opened these books in a decade or more, and decided I’d not want or need them in future.

    As for CDs, that’s more difficult. I have so far only removed – de-accessioning is a new term to me – a half dozen. One was a composer I decided to try and dislike (think Philip Glass meets New Age mantra), the rest were sub-par performances, compared to later ones I acquired.

    I’ll mention this aspect in Part 2 of the update.

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