By the time I was in my teens, I owned 700 books. They no longer fit in my bedroom, so my father built me a “library” in the basement, a little alcove whose walls were built out of tall bookcases run together. I had a recliner, lamp, rug, and a gate across the opening to keep the siblings at bay. It was definitely my primary “happy place.”
But then I graduated high school and went off to college – where naturally one of the first things I did was to visit its library with the intention of seeing what they had in my favorite sections (900 - history! 500 – natural sciences!). I had a great shock when I saw letters on the spines, followed by numbers – what on earth was this “BL2033” and “PR9986”?????!??? Whatever it was, it wasn’t the divine Dewey! Why, I couldn’t find anything! The horror!
I soon discovered that every university library used the Library of Congress cataloging system. I was devastated. I had to learn where things were all over again, and my personal library suddenly seemed quaintly out of date. Over the ensuing years, as I got rid of old books and acquired new ones, the labels no longer got made, and now the only books on my shelves with Dewey Decimal labels are the ones I bought at library books sales. Sigh.
My bird-related bookshelf (click on photos for bigger views)
Now I keep track of the books I own in a database, listing title, author, subject, and date read. Once in a while a nostalgic temptation steals over me – couldn’t I add a field for the Dewey Decimal number? Wouldn’t that be keen? Then again, maybe what’s gone is gone. But it was certainly fun while it lasted.
One of my Natural History bookcases -- there are two
I do still keep my books arranged by subject matter, though not as strictly as Dewey would have liked.