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Library of Congress Home Library

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This is our home library, in Library of Congress format. We picked LCC over Dewey because we didn't want our Fiction off in another room--we wanted it integrated by subject instead of by author name, which seemed a bit arbitrary to us. It just made more sense to us to see Harry Potter next to other magic books instead of next to other books written by Brits with R names. If you zoom in to the bottom of each book spine you'll see a white stripe, which actually is a label off a standard P-Touch labelmaker, 3/4" tape, with each label having two lines, one for the LCC letter(s), and one for the number (no cutter numbers means nothing past the decimal point.) The only customizations we've made is that we like things sorted by topic and we like to keep each series together--so 1) there are places like PZ7 where the official topic is like "British Authors, 1900-Present", and that's just not specific enough for us, so we go for a secondary category, and 2) we love ideas like having the Les Mis book, CD, and movie all right next to each other, so we facilitate that--ditto with translated works, Green Eggs and Ham in English and in Latin are right next to each other (instead of one being under Latin, we file the alternate version next to the original). We've gone back and forth about whether we want all our CDs filed under "pop music" instead of something more specific. That's the bottom line, there are a few really general categories that end up absorbing too much, so we have banished a few of those categories, forcing us to categorize a movie where the book it's based on goes, etc. We love that system, and I can't think of a problem if you have less than 10,000 books.

The absolute best place to find Library of Congress numbers is called OCLC Classify--it's a beta site that's just a descriptive/non-prescriptive survey of where all the nation's libraries put that book. So when a book doesn't have an LCC number, it will show a number anyway, the consensus of of many thousands of librarians. And it's a great place to find secondary LCC and Dewey numbers. It's owned by worldcat, but better than worldcat. And even that's plan B--plan A is we use Book Crawler on the iPhone to barcode scan every book in the room very quickly, and then it outputs a list of the 50% it finds and their LCC numbers. That was like bookends, seeding a huge percentage of the whole rack.

On that note, there's a real 80/20 disclaimer here, because we think we've got something to show, but the last 20% will probably take us years...

Okay, at the top right of this page is a "photo sizes" button. If you click it, a dropdown will appear; if you click Original, it'll open a new window that you can zoom in on fully. There you'll see:

Shelf/column 1: Rows 1-3 are all church books. We don't really have any Letter A books--B is philosophy and religion, so you'll see the first half of row 1 are scriptures, different translations, different languages, second half are those Teachings of the Prophets books. Row 2 starts with Krishnamurti and some philosophy, then etiquette books, then history of Christianity books. Row 3 are straight religion books. Row 4 are personal memoirs. 5 are local and national history (I think we're up to letter E now(?))

Column 2: Top two shelves are G & H; leadership, management, economics, business, sports, martial arts. Row 3 that big list is The Bride Book, which I wrote, and it's HQ745 I believe. Row 4 are finance books.

Column 3: International relations books, some linguistics and now that Latin books for rows 1 and 2 (that's PA), then more language--English, Spanish, some Hebrew, then fiction that is so classic that it's generally filed under literature instead of its topic. Row 3 starts with 3 hebrew books, then that maroon Les Mis that I mentioned (and it's little black CD to its right), before and after Les Mis are books on memoirs--The Art of the Personal Essay and then 3 flavors of the writings of Michel de Montaigne. Dante, Borges, Langenscheidt, then Row 4 gets into difficult-to-categorize fiction.

Column 4 - The top row is largely that PZ7 stuff. Before that we have some normal P (fiction) - the first two are two of the Pride and Prejudices [that'll eventually be 6(?)]. #4 is Tao of Pooh, then 3 Douglas Adams, Terry Books, Da Vinci Code, Tom Clancy, Princess Bride... the right half are the Harries Potter. Row 2 continues, with the right half being that juvenile fantasy stuff. Row 3 is entirely a complete works of Shakespeare. Row 4 is so far half Boy Scout books and half uncategorized.

Column 5: First, look on top. That for now is our Special Collections, meaning things we would never put a label on because they're too fragile. A 1750s dictionary (dictionaries evolve, so the notable part of old ones is just how stupid all the definitions sound)! A pre-electricity science textbook (with pages on how muscle is just coagulated blood)! A 1903 Young Women's Manual (goes off on each girl's duty to stop a band if she feels they're improvising!) An 1860s civil war field manual on trench digging (it's amazing how much calculus went into this stuff, especially in that modern major general era)! Two consecutive issues of the WWII servicemen's pocket edition of the LDS Church News, one when Heber J Grant died, and one when George Albert Smith was instated.

Okay, Column 5, row 1 is science. All of science is one letter in the library of congress--doesn't mean you can't expand it, just that when it was designed 100 years ago it made sense that if you only have 26 top-level categories the entire corpus of known Chemistry, Math, Physics, Biology, and Nutrition (all letter R) would surely use no more space than Naval Warfare (the entire letter V). But I guess all of fiction only got one letter (P). Okay, so Row 1 is everything I've even pretended to know about Science. Row 2 is random VHSes. Row 3 is mostly TX, cookbooks. Row 4 is U-Z (and no, nothing in V.)

Column 6 is music, next to the piano. And there's still CDs and DVDs in the other room. But we're working on it!

This has been a wonderful experience. It's amazing to see how many diplomacy books are considered best under military strategy. it's enlightening to see the leadership books separate from the management books, the personal finance separate from accounting, etc. It's just the way a library is supposed to work.

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