Confession time: my storytelling library was a blot on the escutcheon of librarians everywhere for the last year and a half. My books were not in any order. The house needed so much work, I just plunked my work books on shelves willy-nilly. This is what about half of them looked like:
Oh, they looked nice. Those homemade bookshelves garnered attention when I posted this picture on Facebook. But, sheesh, when I needed to find a particular book, I spent way too much time searching. Can you see that there's a collection of cat stories right next to a big book of world tales? Sacred Stories is right next to a collection of Scottish folktales, which is next to French stories.
I know better. My first professional job was as a Slavic cataloger. It's important to have a system, in order to find materials easily.
Last week, I organized my books. Not exactly Dewey Decimal, but close.
Here's the order I use:
- General reference
- Books on creativity, including writing books
- Reference books relating to folklore and storytelling
- How-to books on storytelling
- Collections of world folktales
- Story collections by topic (e.g. folktales of cats)
- Story collections by geographic area (e.g. folktales from France)
- Literary (that is, not folktale) collections by author
It's not exact. Some areas are a little slushy. Eagle-eyed readers will see that stories from Shakespeare are tucked into the English folktale collections--that's mostly because the literary tales are on a shelf that's harder to reach, and because I have a program of folktales related to Shakespeare's plays. No, I don't have a card catalog (though I was lusting after a small one at Habitat Restore last week). Still, it's a great improvement.
I think I'll go browse my collection for a bit.