Published Jan 9. 2019 - 4 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 8. 2020

My book register

My books used to be ordered by black magic, essentially a system where I stuffed in new titles where there was space. Things have changed.

My system
My system
Martin Joergensen

A couple of years ago I decided to order my books according to author. The books were ordered by black magic, essentially a system where I stuffed in new titles where there was space. As the collection grew I also started squeezing in books where there was no space, and in the end I simply lost track of each book. The result was that I had problems finding the books that I wanted, and even though my black magic system added some kind of order – like Danish books in the lower right hand corner, salmon flies central left and other groupings – I simply couldn’t find books that I knew I had.

I do have a fairly good visual memory and could find books by running my eyes over the backs and spotting a book in the right size, color or print style. But even that system would fail. And more and more often.
As mentioned, I solved the problem by ordering by author, but since I couldn’t remember the authors of all books I had to cave in and make a registry where I could find the books, get the author and then find it in the shelf.

Being a web developer, the natural system for me was a web based register where I could enter details for each book, author, ISBN, publisher, pages etc. as well as a scan of the cover and some keywords describing the content.
While I was at it I also registered my DVDs, and the sum of all elements came to some 450 volumes. Not impressing by any library standard, but certainly enough to make my overview fail some times.
Since I made the register I have given away all my DVDs to friends and a fishing club. I had to realize that I never watched DVDs and that they were just filling boxes in the shelves that were so desperately needed for books.

So there were two steps:
First taking out all books, sorting them and putting them back in the shelves.
Then making the system and entering the newly ordered books into the system.

Sorting sounds simpler than it was. Back then I compared it to the shuffle game from hell. You know, one of these games that have a flat, square container filled with a number of bricks minus one that you slide around until they are ordered. An empty shelf ready for all the ordered books meant books all over the place, and books in the shelves meant that I had to predict the placement of the D’s, H’s and W’s and had to shift quite a few books around to accommodate a new one needing space.

Making the system, on the other hand, was simpler than it sounds. I work with such systems every day and configuring one to handle books and DVDs was fairly easy. I used the framework Drupal – the same system that runs GFF – and set up a simple, but efficient register.
Drupal works with content types and fields, and this little system has two content types: book and dvd. I still keep the DVD-information. There's no reason to delete it. It doesn't take up much space inside a computer.
The book type has a number of fields for the information on the book, like title, author, ISBN, pages, year published and publisher, and I made a neat function that can find book information online when I have the ISBN.
So currently I have all my 388 fishing books registered and can find them easily. A couple of books arrived since this was written, but keeping up isn't as bad as it used to be. Finding shelf space is.

A mess
Organizing in the physical world
Martin Joergensen

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