The Lengths I Go to Organize My Books

A few years ago I installed OpenBiblio on one of my websites to keep tab of all my books. I wrote a Perl script that uses a book’s ISBN number to retrieve the bibliographic information from Amazon and then enter the book into my library.  I can now search all my books  as well my DVDs and I have a complete list for insurance purposes.  Also, now if someone wants to borrow a book, I can check it out and know who borrowed what and when.

A couple of weeks ago I moved and after unpacking all my books I got the urge to organize my books using the Library of Congress (LoC) classification. When I originally set up my library I learned quite a bit about MARC standards. I was able to get the Dewey Decimal numbers for many of my books but some of my books were self-published so they don’t have ISBN, Dewey Decimal or LoC numbers. I want to use LoC and was able to write another Perl script to pull the LoC numbers for all the books it can find.

For the self-published books, I learned that there are formulas to create an LoC number. But I became frustrated while researching classification. The information for the Library of Congress and the Dewey Decimal systems are held as intellectual property.  If you want to learn how to classify a book using the LoC system you have to buy the Classification and Shelflisting Manual from the Library of Congress for $50. Actually, it’s a stack of loose-leaf pages, and you don’t even get a binder for the $50. If there is anything about our government that should be open, it should be how the Library of Congress organizes all its information. Aside from the overly, nerdy person like me who wants this information, why charge already cash-strapped libraries for all this information.

Which brought me to my next step in my attempt to classify my books. I began looking for used copies of the “Classification and Shelflisting Manual” on eBay and Amazon. I didn’t find any copies, butI  did find some books that should tell how to do what I want.   I came across a copy of Learn Library of Congress Classification on a site called Better World Books. They had a good price, but I was also interested in their business philosophy. They were started as a social business and work to increase literacy around the world. I will post more later about social businesses.

So in a week or so, I will receive my book from Better World Books.  I will geek out and hopefully learn how to get all my books classified using LoC.  The conclusion to all this should fulfill the nerdy, slightly OCD obsession I have to organize all my books.

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