Mr. Dewey, I Need Your Help


posted by on Books, Libraries

It happened again today. I had to order a book from the library—a book that I own. I just can’t find it.

All libraries have some sort of system for organizing their books: the Dewey Decimal System, or the Library of Congress Classification, for example. I have my own system. It works like this: When I finish with a book, I put it on a shelf where it will fit easily. If I can’t find a spot, I just put it on its side on top of other books. Or, if I think I may need to refer to it again soon, I put it on the floor by the chair I was in when I was reading it, or on the top of the file cabinet by my desk, or in some other place where it will be handy (ha!) when I need it again. Simple, eh? And no decimal places to figure out. I’m just thankful my local library has most of the books I own but can’t seem to find.

Occasionally I decide to put a stop to this chaos and actually organize my books. It will be fun, I tell myself. And I’m right. It is fun. So much fun that I end up sitting on the floor somewhere in my house, surrounded by stacks of books (neatly organized, of course, by subject, author, and a few other mysterious categories I come up with on the spot), reading a bit in this one and a bit in that one, blissfully passing the day I had set aside to organize the books. I end up taking a stack of books back to my office, or I set them beside the bed or a favorite chair, because these books are certainly ones that I will want to read again soon. If I were really clever, I’d just go ahead and order them from the library now and save myself the trouble of looking for them later.