Reorganizing my books

Posted on 11 June 2011 in:

Living room, books

I have never been able to get too excited about typeface classification systems. Of all the texts that I have read about the subject, I think that I most agree with Jonathan Hoefler’s “On classifying type” from Emigre number 42 (1997). Or perhaps with John Hudson’s classification system (based on this source). Still, I’m excited that Indra Kupferschmid and Nick Sherman will be leading a several-hour-long discussion on the topic at the upcoming ATypI. It is a pity that I will likely miss that day of the conference.

I recently began thinking about the trouble with classification systems while reorganizing the books in my library. Like typeface classification, there are several library guidelines and numbering systems I could rely on. Perhaps someday, I will even do this. But for the moment – due to some additional new shelving space in my apartment – I have decided to rearrange my books according to the following categories:

Having settled on these categories, I still see lot’s of problems. First of all, there are not really enough categories here … and then there is the situation that certain books could really appear in multiple categories. Do I put my copies of Gerrit Noordzij’s Letterletter and The Stroke with “books about lettering” – where I also have several calligraphy and writing manuals – or in “monographs by designers”, “books about typography,” or “history of writing?” Will visiting designers who see their books in my “stupid typography-experiment books and folios” section be insulted? There are no labels on my bookshelves, but perhaps they would be able to guess …

There is also the order of categories to consider, as well as the order of books within categories. Above, I have listed my categories alphabetically, but I find this impractical. As for order within each category, I could sort by the author’s last name, year of publication, size, color, or by the order in which I read the books. Each category will require some additional shelving space, for new additions of course. But certain categories will certainly grow fast than others.