A WRITER'S WIT
How the Library of Congress Helped Me Organize My Personal Library
In the summer of 2019, I took a short break from writing, about five hours a day over five weeks in order to catalog my collection. I touched every hardback, examining its dust jacket or blurbs on the back of each paperback to see if I wanted to keep it. I touched each book again as I wrote the determined call number in pencil following the copyright page, touched it again as I labeled the spine, and touched it once more as I made a Word document accession list of my holdings. That would be so that in the future I could find what I wanted when I wanted it, something I had not always been able to do with my previous rather free-form mode of organization. (I also found duplicates of books I’d bought, not recalling that I already possessed a copy.)
How did I locate or generate all those LC call numbers? one might ask. I checked the copyright page of each book, especially if it was published sometime after the late 1980s. Very often the publisher had already acquired an LC number and all I had to do was copy it out. If the book did not have a call number, I consulted the TTU Library online catalog. I would say that I retrieved at least fifty percent of my numbers from there. Last, I discovered that the Library of Congress (duh) also sported its very own online catalog of vast holdings. That source gave me nearly the rest (or often I could “generate” a number similar to a different book by the same author). What about new books? They are often a bigger problem than old ones. Many publishers now seem to rush a book to publication without waiting to receive a call number from LC, and so it must sit on a separate shelf of mine until one day the LC catalog will list its call number. A librarian’s job is never done. Yay. It means one is always acquiring and reading new books.
I’ve enjoyed writing about my lifetime of library experiences this week. I might briefly say that the Lubbock City/County Libraries support one main building and three branches. I’ve used the main Mahon Library from time to time, particularly when reading fiction; my writing group has met in a small room there. If you have a comment or a library experience you would like to share with my readers, please leave it in the Comment section. If you enjoyed any of these posts, please copy the URL and send a link to your friends. Thank you.
TOMORROW: My Book World | Will Fellows's Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest