It's been about four months since anyone has commented on a post. This saddens but does not surprise me. Really I do prefer to do all the talking myself, as it saves time and prevents arguments.
But, in the interest of generating conversation, and in the even greater interest of not working on my dissertation, I'd like to share a brief anecdote and then solicit the feedback of my readers.
I've always wanted to pretend to have readers.
A couple of years ago, I paid for a lifetime membership to librarything.com. In my more optimistic days I thought I might have a future in academia, and so believed that my library would soon grow out of all compass and want some form of functional catalog. (I see by the little red squiggly dots we're no longer spelling that "catalogue.") I entered everything I owned and have continued to do so, but really it's been an exercise in narcissism. I for reasons passing understanding aspire to have more obscure books; I stand back and marvel at my almost oppressively canonical author cloud; I wonder when my "eighteenth-century" tag will finally dwarf all other tags by a ludicrous margin. It's full-on gloriously self-indulgent book-nerd exhibitionism. But it hasn't been useful.
Until today. Having watched the trailer for Watchmen, I found myself wanting to reread it. I couldn't remember, though, if I already owned it. I was about to buy a copy when I remembered librarything and decided to check it. I searched my books, and there it was. Saved me eleven bucks, plus shipping.
Provided, of course, I can find it, which brings me to the point. Though my library is exceedingly small, my apartment is even smaller, so shelf space is at a premium. Like any actual library, I at some point had to make a decision about what I wanted to have immediately accessible and what could go into the apartment-dweller's version of off-site storage: some plastic bins shoved under my bed, in my closet, etc. Right now, sitting in prime positions on a very comfortable bit of pine, are books that I have not touched in years. Meanwhile, the book I want is no doubt at the very bottom of an unmarked box buried under three years' worth of stuff that even Superfund isn't prepared to deal with. Therefore, as has been the case several times this summer at the British Library, recovery of my requested item could take up to a week. The point is, I got it wrong -- I did not accurately anticipate my likely needs, and failed to make critical decisions about space according to the right criteria. I think I got tripped by vanity; thinking back on how I went about it at the time, I left anything that could be classified as Literature on the shelves and left everything else to the mercy of the dust-bunnies. Old textbooks, pleasure-reading, etc. went first. Eventually the Russian lit fell, then the French. The whole of the 20th century followed, and at the moment it's not looking good for 1850-1900.
So my questions are: 1) do you have a librarything account, and 2) if so, has it been useful? 3) If not, have you ever had to waste half a day looking for a book you couldn't possibly have known you'd need when you deprioritized it and 4) if so, have you actually found doing so a perversely rewarding experience? Lastly--5) how are your books organized now, and by what criteria did you determine their arrangement?