|Topic: Organizing Your Books|
I have several hundred, probably around 1500, magic books. I'm struggling with organizing them so I can quickly locate a specific book. I got serious about organizing them several years ago after reading Leo Behnke's book "The Conservation of Magic". (http://www.nnmagic.com/books/conservation.htm) I came up with a system similar to what he uses and describes in the book. Leo was even kind enough to respond to a few emails to clarify some questions I had about his system. What I realized in the end is that whatever system you use it has to make sense to you. I'm still struggling with finding something that makes sense for all cases and am hoping to learn from how some of you that have organized your books.
Here are some of the things that cause me problems. Do you organize by topic, or by author? For example, do you have a group card books, another for coin books, and another for rope books? But then what about books that contain tricks on more than one category? If you organize by author, what about those books that are written about someone by somebody else. For example, if you're looking for the book on Annemann are you going to think of Max Abrams?
There's also the option of organizing them by publisher, which is actually what you see a lot in stores. I know I'll tend to think about that book being published by Kaufman or by L&L, but then this has the problem of splitting authors or topics. For example, John Bannon had a book published by Kaufman and another L&L and now publishes himself. It would be nice to keep all of the Bannon books together. There are others that have the same issue.
Another option is to organize by who it's about as first priority and then the author as second priority. If a book is about a specific Magician, for example the Annemann book, "The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings", or the "Magic of Michael Ammar" it would be organized by their names. But books containing a collection of tricks from multiple magicians would be listed by author. For example, "The Collected Almanac" by Richard Kaufman, or the Apocalypse series by Harry Lorayne .
Has anyone had any experience with these or other systems that they would recommend or provide some advice on? Thanks.
|My collection is only about 120 books but I always sort by topic first and then in alphabetical order. That is because I always go by title and if I need boops for a coin rourine I don't want to have to search. don't know if that helps but it's what I do|
My current method is also based on topic but it's not always logical where I need to look for a book when you have books that cover a lot of topics such as: "The Magic of Michael Ammar", "Carneycopia", "Collected Almanac", etc.
In my case right now, I just need to organize what I have and be able to quickly find something because I want to downsize my library. So it's not so much of getting it into a state that it would better facilitate browsing research as it is to just locate a specific book.
|Ahhh got ya. I have a section that is dedicated to multiple forms of magic, such as the Ammar book, and do it in alphabetical order. It works for me because I always think title when going for a book|
|I mainly organize them by publisher, simply because they look good this way (especially the Hermetic ones). I do have a problem sorting the small booklets and lecture notes though.|
|I keep my small booklets, pamphlets and notes separate|
|You guys are making me ashamed of myself. I worked for a number of years in academic libraries and one would think I should be OCD about organizing books. I just put 'em on the shelves and then berate myself later when I need to find something. :(|
All the questions you arise in your post has been in my mind since a great number of years. I have the same amount of books as you, 1500. And obviously it is a working library, because I'm not sure at all I will have the time and energy to study everything.
I've tried several systems, because when I had one hundred it was easy to change the system. Not now...
I just give you here how it is now in my home. I have around 2100 books in all, other subjects included.
My library is organized by theme : litterature, architecture, magic, neurosciences...
In the magic section, I have separated magazines (including reedition) from books. In the book section, it is impossible to classify by category of magic (cards, mentalism...) because often a book has several things in it. So I have applied the usual library system, by author. In case of a compilation with several authors, I've put them under the compilator name. And yes, I have hesitated a long time to put a book by the content's author or by the writer. I've decided to arrange them by the writer name. I have an excell file in which I have listed all the books and on another column, if needed, there is the name under which it's arranged.
So it is a very simple system.
The hard work begin when you think about organizing what you have studied from all thoses books...
Hope this little insight helps.
I've forgotten to say something important which everybody with a rather extensive library will encounter. It is when the shelves are full. Really avoid to fill them completely because you will not be able to insert a new book.
I have no shelves available here, my house is too small (I prefer a small house with a lot of books than the reverse). So now, the last little shelf is not organized at all.
|Ekins, I'm living in France with my wife but she is from the west coast of the USA and has lived in "her" town, namely Portland. So she says hi to you !|
Thanks for your input and tell your wife hello from Portland.
My current goal in organizing my books is to be able to quickly locate a specific book. I'm trying to downsize my library so finding is currently more important than an alternative system that might make study slightly easier. As I started this re-organization I had one method in mind and started putting the books in shelves based on it but then ran into some issues and have now chosen a different system.
I'm organizing them alphabetically based on whatever pops into my mind when I look at a book. For example, there are several books about Slydini by different authors and publishers but they're listed under "Slydini". There are many books that have been written by Richard Kaufman on many different topics. Many of these are listed under "Kaufman". However, there are some books he's written where the person he's writing about is the focus so it's listed under that. For example, "Berglas Effects" is listed under "Berglas" rather than "Kaufman".
I'm also using a very similar Excel sheet as you described where I have the Title, Author, and what it's listed by.
I also have the problem of too many books and not enough shelves. That's the first goal is to trim my library down enough to fit in the shelves I have.
The late Jay Marshall's library rivaled the "Library of Congress"! (All old showmen tend to exaggerate!)
The late Bob (Marshall Michigan MUSEUM OF MAGIC) Lund's library either had one book more, or one book less than jay's. (I'm not SURE!!!) THAT, sets the stage for the following! >>>
I think it was in the early '70s, on a Saturday evening. Jay, Frances, John Shirley, and I had just finished one of Frances' delightful dinners, and were having another cup of coffee, when the Carmen Street doorbell rang. Jay said, "I'm not expecting anyone..." I said, I'm nearest the door, I'll go see who..."
Standing outside in the rain, was Johnny Thompson ((TOMSONI"). Inside, I said, "We're in the kitchen." I followed Johnny up the stairs, and everybody "hello'd" Johnny. Jay said, "You look upset."
Johnny explained that he was working the National Architects' Trade Show at the McCormick Center, opening on Monday. Two months previously, he had left town for a two month tour in Europe. He had called Recil Bordner, owner of Abbott's in Colon. He had explained that he needed a JUMBO CARD CASTLE made for the Architects' Trade Show. He had returned to Chicago, earlier that morning, and found (make that: did not find!) any package from Abbott's. PANIC! He had phoned Recil, and, Recil apologized. He had forgotten to make the castle.
John Shirley spoke up. "I've made castles before. Let's go down to the workshop." Jay said, "I'm sure that I have a book or two with card castle information." Jay headed for the library, John, Johnny, and I went downstairs. I headed for he stock room to get a deck of JUMBOS, some string, and some tape. John & Johnny headed to the workshop to locate a sheet of plywood, and clear off the work bench. Less than 10 minutes later, Jay came in with a half dozen books in his arms, all opened to a page with information and drawings of card castles! The TOPPER was the last book in the pile. It was TITLED, "CARD CASTLES, HOW TO BUILD THEM"!!! We all laughed, and then Jay explained that the last book was a children's book about how to build 'real' card castles on a rainy day! He got another LAUGH!
"WE" BUILT A BEAUTIFUL CASTLE. John said that we had better let the glue dry overnight. Tomsoni, with a BIG smile, said he would stop by Sunday afternoon to pick it up.
We went back to the kitchen for another cup of coffee! The trade show went off on schedule.
SEE! It helps to KNOW what's in your library. --And, WHICH BOOK "IT" IS IN"! (Jay had all his books on magic shelved alphabetically by author. He KNEW his library! --because, he had READ those books!
That's a great story Dick. Thanks for sharing. It also proves a couple of points. The information in any book is useless if you don't read it. And the organization of your library needs to make sense to you. I doubt anyone but Jay could have found those books.
A book on a shelf is just a "storage unit". It's only really useful when someone READS it! --and then, USES the knowledge acquired.
I had carte blanche to use both Jay's and Bob's library, and, I DID!
Great story Dick !
Brian, your system of arranging your books in a flexible way, according to your feeling/impression it should be here or there is a good one. I've tried this too. And another system not discussed is the year of publication. But other problems occur : reedition, difference between date of invention and date of publication...
I've read a great part of my library. But I've thoroughly studied only a small part of it.
For now, I'm now studying again all the Giobbi Card College series. I've read it around 10 times. And I'm still improve from a new study. Same for Erdnase, Marlo, Vernon...
I would really enjoy hearing people discussing about the organization of what they have made of those books, whoch is of course the main goal. Even great encyclopedic memories like Marshall can't know exactly what is inside each of the thousands books they have. If you ask them something, yes they can remember "oh there is something in this book...and this one..." but they will miss things too. I think a serious methodology is necessary. And I am sure some brillant people here can help us in this regard.
This is how I’ve organised my library of thousands of books and pdf’s.
Small books are kept in carton book boxes. I bought them from Ikea. These boxes are numbered and rest on shelves in several bookcases. Large books rest on the shelves themselves.
To easily retrieve a book I record the books in an Excel-sheet, which has the following columns: Title, Author, Magician, Topic, Book/PDF, Location, Language. I’ve made a distinction between author and magician for those cases where the magic being described from a particular magician has been authored by someone else. For example several books of Jon Racherbaumer and Stephen Minch. For books or magazines with contributions from several magicians, the name of the compiler or editor is filed in the column magician.
To quickly see what literature I’ve got on a particular subject I have the Excel-sheet sorted by topic.
To give you an idea of the entrances of the column Topic, see the first ones from my library at the end of this post.
To retrieve a book, the column location tells me where to find it, either which box or which shelf.
For all pdf’s there have been made files on an external hard drive for every magician. So they are always easy to find.
The system works fine for me. It may be an idea to add two more columns, f.i. sundry notations for noting to whom you’ve lent a book and at which date and a column “Priority” for publications that need your attention. In hindsight I regret not having made a column for the date of publication but now it simply will be too much work to do this.
Maybe it can be of use to you as well. With regards to taxonomy of the entrances in the column Topic you will always have to deal with inconsistencies. They are unavoidable. And once in a while you will have to correct mistakes you’ve.
Allied Arts/Chalk Talk
Allied Arts/Costume change
Allied Arts/Hand Shadows
Allied Arts/Origami/Napkin folding
Bills - Switch
Bills - Switch - no TT
Bills/Eff/Transpo to Tictacbox
Bills/Eff/Transpo/Bill in balloon
Bills/Eff/Transpo/Bill to Lemon
Cards & Children
Cards & Coins
Cards & Coins & Mentalism
Cards & CU
Cards & CU & Mentalism
Cards & CU & Mentalism
Cards & Mentalism
Cards & Mentalism/Prediction
Cards & Theory
Cards/Eff/4ofakind/2 packet transpo
Cards/Eff/4ofakind/changing backs & faces
Cards/Eff/4ofakind/locating + Royal flush
Cards/Eff/4ofakind/magician vs gambler
Cards/Eff/4ofakind/Revelation of chosen card
Cards/Eff/Ambitious/gradual visual rise
Cards/Eff/Cardbox - Opening Cardbox
Cards/Eff/Cards thru newspaper
Cards/Eff/Chicago Opener & Color changing deck
Cards/Eff/Coincidence/2 decks/mene tekel
Cards/Eff/Color change under transparent napkin
Cards/Eff/Color Changing deck
Cards/Eff/Do as I do
Cards/Eff/Follow the leader with O&W
Cards/Eff/Gambling/Blackjack & Prediction
Cards/Eff/Gambling/Monte/2 card monte
Cards/Eff/Gambling/Monte/3 card monte
Cards/Eff/Gambling/Poker & Gilbreath
Cards/Eff/Gambling/Poker & Prediction
Cards/Eff/Gambling/Poker 10 cards
Cards/Eff/Location of 2 cards
Cards/Eff/Mental photography deck
Cards/Eff/Misc/Cig thru card
Cards/Eff/Misc/Torn corner penetration
Cards/Eff/Order - Chaos
Cards/Eff/Penetration 2 cards - slit
Cards/Eff/Prediction 1 out of 6
Cards/Eff/Prediction/Equivoque & Multiple outs
Cards/Eff/Production of card from deck
Cards/Eff/Revelation + Transpo
Cards/Eff/Revelation of chosen card
Cards/Eff/Revelation/Card on the ceiling
Cards/Eff/Revelation/Sleight of hand
Cards/Eff/Revelation/Spec finds card
Cards/Eff/Shrinking card box + transpo
Cards/Eff/Spec reveals cards
Cards/Eff/The trick that can't be explained
Cards/Eff/Think and Rise
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card - outofsightoutofmind
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card - psych force
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card - Special deck
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card & OOTW
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card & Transpo
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card- billet switch
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card in wallet
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card-(magician & spectator)
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card-5 - matrix fox
Cards/Eff/Think-a-card-Tossed Out deck
Cards/Eff/Transpo & Fusion
Cards/Eff/Transpo of signature
Cards/Eff/Transpo to box
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card from closed cardcase
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card in balloon
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card in Orange
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card thru hanky
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card thru window
Cards/Eff/Transpo/card to bottle
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card to envelope
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card to envelope
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card to Impossible location
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card to Pocket
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Card to Wallet
Cards/Eff/Transpo/Cards across/Thought of card
Cards/Gambling/Poker -Texas Hold'em
Cards/General (Packet Tricks)
Cards/List of faro-effects
Cards/Memorized deck & CU
Cards/Memorized deck & General
Cards/Memorized deck & Memory
Cards/Memorized deck/26 pairs
Cards/Memorized deck/Aronson Stack
Cards/Memorized deck/DaOrtiz Stack
Cards/Memorized deck/Nikola Stack
Cards/Memorized deck/Si Stebbins
Cards/Memorized deck/Special Stack
Cards/Playing cards trivia
Cards/Stack - Any stack
Cards/Stack - Si Stebbins
Cards/T/Controls & Forcing
Cards/T/False Shuffles/Dealing & Stacking
Cards/T/False Shuffles/Faro/Non Faro
Cards/T/Forcing/Equivoque (sort of)
Cards/T/Marked Cards/Luminous readers
Cards/T/Marked cards/Marking System
Cards/T/Passes & Shifts
Cards/T/Setting up a stacked deck.
For those who want an electronic catalogue system for books and DVDs, try this: libib.com. There is a free version and you can use either a computer or mobile device.
To keep track of all my books, tricks, DVDs, etc, I use a system created by Ed Hass.
It's easy to use and gives me al the info that I need when I am looking ofr a book, DVD, trick Etc. It's call the Magic DataBase, is sold by Ed Hass, and is not expensive. If you wnat to be organized, do email@example.com a favor and get this dataBase from Ed. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you who have access to another's library - how do you handle 'checking out' a book? Is there a book plate inside the book to let you know where it came from?
The scholar in me wants to make sure that I would get my book back, but the collector in me wouldn't want to 'damage' a book by adding the bookplate.
[quote]On May 23, 2016, tattered wrote:
For those of you who have access to another's library - how do you handle 'checking out' a book? Is there a book plate inside the book to let you know where it came from?
The scholar in me wants to make sure that I would get my book back, but the collector in me wouldn't want to 'damage' a book by adding the bookplate. [/quote]
In the past I have just looked to public libraries as a model. There is a used book store here that will put the plastic cover on books; they do a folding method that does not involve tape of any kind. So the book itself is much more protected from damage and then you can put a book plate, sticker or whatever on the plastic cover.
|I've tried different methods over the years and finely choose eye appeal. My hardbound books are grouped by Magician, not author. These are displayed in barrister bookcases ( 6 bookcases to date ) along with soft bound books that have titles on the spine. Then, there are two 4' vertical file cabnets with 3 drawers each. I like that they go against the wall (don't stick out) and their not at all unsightly as tradition cabnets. Their the ones where the drawers are 4' wide and the hanging files go left to right. I put the booklets and manuscript in the hanging folders, I keep each magician together best I can. The spiral and comb bound books are place over the file hanger itself. I part the book about half way and saddle it over one of the two hangers on the folder. How do I know what I have and where it's at is stored in a Microsoft Word Doucument (64 pages + ) I started this when I realized I owned multiple copies of the same book. My daughter showed me how to put hyper links in the title description of each book, so I can pull up the index of the book. I haven't quit mastered how to do a phase search to find information when I want it, but my daughter will be visiting soon and maybe she can show me the proper way to do it. She told me that the Word Document is set up for that, I'll see. All books are catalogued by the bookcase, shelf, and drawer there in as well as the number assign to the book (1,2,3,...) . The locations are in the Word Document. The file folders have a letter and some times a number (a, b,b2,c......). If a new item needs to go in place of another, I'll pull the bookmark that has the number on it and put it in the new book, then update the computer. Counting most of the books, I currently have 1900 plus. The computer states 1890, but that's not including duplicates, video DVD's, PDF books, or the few that haven't arrived yet. All my magazines were giving away as they were replaced by the hardbound, CD or DVD editions. The total hardbound is at 793. I once loaned a book out and got it back over four years later. I have not written, labeled, or marked in any of my books - I know some day my books will be the property of someone else and I know I prefer a clean book. This 49 years of collecting and I'm running out of room. I been looking in to digital coping the books. I've done two to date. I need to construct a book copier set up to speed the process up. It would be nice to have my library on a my laptop or accessible from the sky, I mean the Cloud.|
|Have you thought about getting a kid to just digitize them for you? Instead of all the space it's taking, it could be in your pocket drive!|
If you want to go wild, there are apps that let you catalog books and assign "tags." Once you get it set up, you can search based on any (or any combination) of those tags... i.e. card, coin, ring, color change, transposition, etc.
My library is rather extensive. When my wife and I married, each of us had about 1000 books each - mine primarily non-fiction, hers primarily sci-fi & Fantasy. There were about 30 books that were duplicated. That was 27 years ago and the library just keeps on growing.
I tend to categorize by subject matter. Art books in one place, science in another. My magical collection takes up two, eight foot tall, 4 foot wide bookshelves. One is for natural magic, the other for performance magic/theater. I subcategorize in sections of magical history, which includes historical texts and biographies. Sets of books are kept together, usually among other works by those authors. Magazines have been placed into 3-ring binders, which, along with the xerox printed material take up the bottom two shelves.
Small booklets I keep in book boxes of the appropriate size. The Grimoire that I write/edit is kept in two 4" three-ring binders, one of which I have covered with leather (the other is still waiting).
I still cannot always find everything I look for when I need it, but it helps.
|The books that are hard to organize on a bookcase are the pamphlets that don't have info on the spine..|
[quote]On Oct 16, 2017, Owen wrote:
The books that are hard to organize on a bookcase are the pamphlets that don't have info on the spine.. [/quote]
Owen, you got that right. Thank God there aren't as many of these pamphlets anymore because they really are difficult to manage. I realize they had their time and place at one point, as an easy way for a magician to publish his or her work, but for the most part they were produced on cheap stock that breaks down easily, and a hassle to store efficiently.
I've found that treating them like magazines or comic books works the best. You can find acid free plastic bags to store them in, and acid free boxes as well. Then organize them however you want...by subject, author, or like me...alphabetically by title. "A"s are in the front of the box, "Z" in back.
Yeah I like the plastic bag idea.
Thanks for the tip WOZ
|I used to put my books on the shelf that were my favorites. the rest went in boxes. Can't tell you how many times I had to search over and over thru boxes to find something I knew I had. Suggest at least you catalog what you have because it can get out of hand over time. Even if it nothing more than a spreadsheet on your computer.|
It would be best to digitize each trick in the book, then catalogue in a database. That is a monster task for any one person. Once in a database, you could search by author, trick, book title, subject, keywords, or any field you wanted to add. I am shocked it hasn't been done for the publically available ebooks.
If I had 1500+ books, I'd probably keep the top 50 books out that I last looked at, and store the rest. Catalogued by author.
|I have 10 32" by 84" bookshelves (6 filled with magic books). I struggled for a while juggling with new additions using different categories and rearranging books, but the books won and now they go into alphabetical order on whichever shelf has space. I also use CLZ books app to keep track of how much I spent on them, which shelf they're on and any historical significance, but I'm lazy so only @ 250 books cataloged so far.|
I realized I was no longer referencing my magic books, even my favorites, as much as I used to.
...and sold most of them.
It felt very odd and a little sad to get rid of such great "friends" but I didn't want them sitting and not being used as they should be.
Books should be read and studied and not just sitting on shelves as trophies.
I hope everyone does the same when the time comes.
|My books are organized by author... maybe 150 books. Now that I am retired I have decided to part with all but the ones I still read/use... which is only a few. I am in the process of deciding which books to keep and which to sell. I must downsize... space is of the essence, and books do take up a lot of space. I also play music... and I have four keyboards, two guitars, two bass guitars, amplifiers, a couple of wind instruments, and load of recording equipment... and I do not want to part with any of it... but that's another bridge to be crossed at a another time :)|