How to Organize Shelves


Office Organization

Take a cue from Dewey to get the most efficient organization method for working areas like offices and libraries. This doesn't mean you need to memorize all the categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. It just means that you group books in a logical, orderly fashion. If you share office or library space with someone else, it might be a good idea to divide the shelf space into "his" and "hers" to house and organize the books of different readers.

To get started, separate the books into fiction, nonfiction and reference. If your library is vast, you may want to invest the time and effort to arrange your collection according to DDC. But since the current version of the system requires four volumes to explain, you'll probably want to use a method that just makes sense to you and the way you use your books [source: OCLC]. One idea is to arrange your shelves so that the books you use the most are the easiest to access, while the ones you rarely need live on the highest, lowest and furthest-away-from-your-desk shelves. Be sure to leave a handy space for frequently consulted reference books like your dictionary and thesaurus.

Once you decide which method you'll use to organize the books in your office, borrow some tips from the living room to help you create an attractive arrangement and pinpoint where each subject begins or ends. Instead of putting as many books on the shelf as it will hold, make stops between subjects (or subheadings if your collection of one subject is extensive) and place a related item in the space. Use a polished geode as a bookend for books on minerals; display an antique camera or a trio of different sized lenses at the beginning of the photography section. If your shelves must do double-duty and store supplies, employ a collection of uniform or decorative containers to hold paperclips, pens, envelopes, et cetera (designer Allison Spear favors the distinctive blue boxes from a posh jewelry retailer) and cluster them together as another focal point [source: Editors of House Beautiful].

Now it's time to head to your shelves, take everything off and start over following the tips and tricks you found here and some more you can find below. Happy shelving!

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Sources

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  • Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition 30 volumes. "Dewey, Melvil." MIcropaedia Volume III, p. 508. Chicago: Helen Hemingway Benton, Publisher, 1980.
  • Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition 30 volumes. "Library Science." Macropaedia Volume 10, pp. 869-870. Chicago: Helen Hemingway Benton, Publisher, 1980.
  • Gilliatt, Mary. Mary Gilliatt's Complete Room by Room Decorating Guide. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2003.
  • Good Housekeeping. "The Stylist's Eye." Your Good House: September 2008: pp. 19-27.
  • Levy, Jennifer. Kids' Rooms: Ideas and Projects for Children's Spaces. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2001.
  • Library of Congress, The. "Library of Congress Classification." (Accessed 03/24/2009). http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/lcc.html
  • Lynch, Sarah. 77 Habits of Highly Creative Interior Designers. Gloucester, MA: Rockport Publishers, 2003.
  • Lynch, Sarah N. and Eugene Mulero. "Dewey? At This Library With a Very Different Outlook, They Don't." The New York Times: July 14, 2007. (Accessed 03/24/2009). http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/14/us/14dewey.html
  • OCLC. "Change is a constant." Online Computer Library Center. 2008. (Accessed 03/24/2009). http://www.oclc.org/dewey/versions/default.htm
  • Wikiel, Yolanda. "Book Smarts." Real Simple: August 2008, pp. 97-102.

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