Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lifehack: Label your books with Dewey numbers

I've tried again and again to come up with a system for organizing the books on my bookshelf -- put the computer books here on the left, fiction here on the right, reference books on the second shelf ... but after a while I would forget what book goes where. Or a certain topic area runs out of shelf space and I don't know where to cram in new books.

Well, the problem of classifying books was solved long ago by librarians. The Dewey Decimal System is a popular system. Using my trusty automatic labeller, I labelled each of my books with the Dewey number (gleaned from the Library of Congress and the Vancouver Public Library websites). Now when I put a book back on the shelf, I don't need to think about where to put it -- I just shelve it according to its number (for example, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is 158, Getting Things Done is 646, etc.)

Pictures from A75 035


  • It's a great idea, but Dewey is owned. It's not free, plus it's a little stale. It's also optimized based on shelf-space, not by topic or anything.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/23/2005 2:09 p.m.  

  • Brilliant! I'm so gonna do this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/24/2005 8:28 a.m.  

  • I prefer the random-scatter method personnally. If the book fits, the book sits!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/24/2005 8:56 a.m.  

  • Anonymous - yeah, I'm not surprised that Dewey has some drawbacks. It's working OK for my little bookshelf thankfully.

    Chris - Yeah! It's cool!

    Graham - Ha! Good to know than random-scatter works for you!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 10/24/2005 3:43 p.m.  

  • I used to have a great plan for organizing stuff like that (books, magazines, etc etc) .. I would pile them up on the coffee table and my wife would box them neatly, and in alphabetical order by title.

    Nowadays, it's just "clutter" and if I pile them up on the coffee table, it means I don't want them anymore and they will be trashed..

    But, seriously .. coding your own books with Dewey is really 'Out There'

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/24/2005 10:48 p.m.  

  • "Out there" - love it!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 10/24/2005 11:41 p.m.  

  • Instead of Dewey, switch to LC numbers! Also, you could catalog your books on LibraryThing (, which could help with the numbering.

    By Blogger AbbotOfUnreason, at 12/30/2005 11:40 a.m.  

  • hi taleswapper - yeah LC is truly hardcore. and LibraryThing looks neat!

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 12/30/2005 10:04 p.m.  

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