Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Organizing Piles of Books

Everyone who knows me knows I have a strange obsession with organizing things. It is part of what makes me a good librarian. Asked to clean up a supply cabinet during my college job and the office got much more then they requested (a very efficient if slightly weird office supply organizational system). Now I am turning those powers of mine to the books coming for the Newbery committee.

When last I blogged about being on the committee, I had received no books. Now I have received nearly 100. One warning I received from previous years' committee members was to have a good organizational system in place before the books started to arrive. Borrowing heavily from others suggestions and my pre-existing systems, I did so. Here loosely are how I am handling things.

Electronic Management
In 2004 I participated in a librarian read challenge at my library. To keep track of my pages/books I started a spreadsheet. And then I never stopped tracking. Since 2004, I have one massive spreadsheet chronicling all my reading. I love it and its existence is probably the reason I have never fully committed to Goodreads, shelfari, librarything, etc.

Spreadsheets continue to be my best friend for the Newbery. There is a spreadsheet for what I read specifically for consideration for the award. I also use the spreadsheet to track the books I receive and when (if) I read them. Every month we suggest titles that we believe are strong contenders and the committee chair sends out a spreadsheet with all the suggestions. To that I add a column so I know when I've read those. (We're required to read all books that have been suggested.)

I'm taking notes about each book in a word processing document making full use of the headers/table of content feature to make it easy to navigate. Currently my notes are fairly bare bones/initial impressions. I will probably have to go back and fill them in more as I determine which books are serious contenders.

Physical Management
There are a lot of books coming in. Many are coming by post now. It isn't unusual to get multiple packages a day. And of course I continue to pull things from the library's collection. After entering them in my spreadsheet, I sort them onto some shelves. I cleared shelves in my office for this. (This method was suggested by a committee member from a previous year.)

The shelves are "have to read" (because they were suggested), "want to read" (based on my personal interests or initial 5 second judgement of the book), "will read when I get time", and "meh". Any books I pull from the library go on the higher priority "want to read" shelf (even if they aren't my first choice) because I have to return them. I've got a separate shelf for ARCs, sorted by publication date. After reading them, if I own them, they go into a cabinet. If I receive the "real" version of a book I had as an ARC (and some publishers are sending me both), then the ARC goes into the library's box of prize books.

I'm trying to alternate a "have to read" with a "want to read" and pulling an occasional "will read if I have time" into the mix. I'm also trying to alternate genres if only to keep them clearer in my head. Read two fantasy books in a row and they become a bit muddled.

Time Management
I know that many people receive "released" (paid) time from work to do Newbery committee work. And my supervisor was willing for me to do so. However, we're short staffed and I was having time determining how to do that and still get my regular work done. For now I'm squeezing it in as I can. I write up my book notes on the reference desk between patron questions. If I finish a project/report/book order, I'll take 15-30 minutes to read in my office. As the year goes by, I will probably look for larger chunks of time to read at work.

At home I try to read some every day. I read before bed, while my other plays video games, while the water is boiling for tea, while drinking tea, etc. I don't have a dedicated "must read NOW" time, but I am making a conscious effort to find time every day. (And yes I'm still knitting, but it is drastically cutting into knitting time.)

The Stats
Since I started reading in the last week of January (the first I could get my hands on some books), I've read (completed) 34 books for a total of 8429 pages. And please don't tell me they are short books, they average 248 pages each. I'm averaging almost 3 books a week (around 700 pages/week) and I know I need to pick that pace up. So far I have received 97 books for free. About 1/3rd of the books I've read I have culled from our library's collection as opposed to a shipment from a publisher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm almost done with grad school for my MLS and I've been irrationally agonizing over sorting my personal library which has fallen into disarray since I began school. Your post gave me a lot of ideas for managing my collection and track my reading better. Thank you for sharing!!