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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On Doing "It" Fast or Right

Jean Sexton muses:

Many of you know I was a librarian before coming to work at Amarillo Design Bureau. I always wanted to be a librarian; in fact since I can remember, I always put my books in order by author's last name. Collecting up books to read seems to be an occupational hazard. I like science fiction and fantasy which many libraries don't have in the quantity that I read. So I bought them and kept them tidily in order by the author's last name. Other genres I enjoy (mysteries, suspense, and many more) were treated similarly.

When it came time for me to pack my things to go to storage for a later move, I packed them by genre and by author. I found out I had over 3000 titles. Looking at things realistically, I knew I had to either move books and practically nothing else or I had to prune. The date for my move was looming over me, so I started pruning quickly -- any book that I could get as an ebook or any series that I could replace as ebooks had to find a home. I repacked the boxes, but they were no longer neatly in order. With space and time an issue, something had to give and it was the order. We did manage to fit well over 2000 books in the moving van.

When I moved into my apartment, reality hit. Where were these books going to live? And could I live with having only books? I became ruthless. If I could possibly replace a book with an ebook (whether or not everything in the series were replaceable), then I added it to my wish list and gave it away. This still left me with over 1600 books to deal with. When I finished putting books in four and then five bookcases (and two more at work), I had over 700 books still in boxes. What was I going to do?

The answer was obvious. I bought another bookcase. This was a massive affair with two glass doors that would protect the books. If I paid attention to size, I could fit two rows of paperbacks on each shelf and have room for my hardbacks in front of them. This is where I chose to do things fast again. There was no real room to sort out my books, so I settled for getting them into the bookcase.

I paid for it over the next two years. If some ebook I had in paper went on sale, I would try to replace it. Of course, I would want to pull the paper version and rehome it. But where was it? I had no clue except it was in the "study bookcase" somewhere in the 768 volumes.

So this weekend I decided to fix the mess. All the books were pulled out and sorted appropriately by type, subject, and by the initial of the author's last name. Knowing that the bookcase had to be heavier on the bottom (and thus emptier shelves needed to be toward the top), I had to work backward from "Z" to "A." Praise be for my shifting books skills honed back in my library days. Five hours later, my books were off the floor and properly in order.

The moral of the story for me seems to be that there are times you have to do things "quick and dirty," but you'll pay a price for it later. At some less harried point, consider going back and doing it "right." In the long run, it will probably save you time and effort.