Organizing my storytelling library

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.

Settling in to Sofia

Soon, I promise, I'll get back to storytelling. There's quite a bit of settling in to do first. I thought I'd show you my apartment, which is a work in progress as I make it my own. 

Welcome to my building! This is along the side. My building is the middle of the three you can see. That's a trolleybus that goes along this busy street. In Sofia, there are buses, trams, trolleybuses, metro, taxis and minicab taxis (these go along set routes and cost more than regular public transport and less than taxis). I'm in the heart of Sofia, what is called "top center." 

Come on in the front door. That is, press the doorbell for my apartment and I'll buzz you in from upstairs. You can take the elevator or the stairs. I most often take the stairs down. 

It's not a fancy elevator, but it works well. Make sure you close the grill, or you'll sit there for a long time. Like the rest of the building common areas, it's clean and safe.

In Bulgarian fashion, there are slippers and flipflops just inside the door. Help yourself. I bought four pairs for guests today. This way I can keep the floors reasonably clean. 

Here's my bedroom, the lightest and warmest room in the house. It doesn't look that way from this picture, as I didn't have the light on and the sun wasn't shining in. You'll just have to take my word for it. I'm writing this from the bed, my current office. There are new windows in the apartment, making it warm and quiet. We'll see what happens when I have the windows open in the spring. 

And the living/dining room. You can just barely see the sofa and the large wall unit (etazherka) across from it. Lovely high ceilings and parquet floors, aren't they? I do love old buildings. 

Here's the kitchen, from one side and then the other.

Yes, I have a washing machine! There was a problem with a leak under the sink the first time I used it, but the plumber was just here and fixed it. Oddly enough, I had a similar problem with the pipes under my sink in Kansas before I left home and had them all replaced. May my kitchen sink karma be paid now. 

Off the kitchen is a small balcony. 

There's also a bathroom, but you don't really need to see that, do you? Oh, okay.

 It has something special: a shower curtain. I'd never seen one in the time I've spent in Bulgaria. In most bathrooms, there's a drain in the middle of the floor and the whole room gets wet. Not here.

It's a good apartment. I feel lucky to be here. Huge thanks to Ana and her son Georgi, who own it and who are taking great care of it (and me). 

Disclaimer: This is not an official Fulbright Program publication. The views expressed here are entirely my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.