June 2021

Home Library Experiments

The summer before my 8th grade year, I moved houses. It wasn't a far move, pretty much just up a hill, but it meant that we packed everything up. Most importantly, all of our books went into boxes. For the first time, I didn't have books lying around, either half-read or finished, that were never reshelved.

I decided to take the opportunity to finally institute an organization system to my shelves. After some research, I settled on Librarika for its free plan, barcode scanning, and branch system—I hoped that I could simply scan each book as it came out of the box and assign it to the correct brach (room of the house).

Of course, I overlooked one of the basic truths of computer science—that the user is always the weakest link. The system lasted well for roughly a month, but it's easy to grab a pile of books and reshelve them somewhere else without individually moving each one in the database. Moreover, as I write this post, I have ~5 books in progress, and 10 books on my desk that are either on my list or that I used to reference. While I'd ideally mark any book that I remove from the shelf as "borrowed," it's tough to do for every single one.

In the times that it is useful to have a shelving database, it is very useful—when you just really need that one book that you know you have somewhere. But, more often, it just gets in the way and interrupts the flow of reading. Earlier this month, when I was searching frantically for my childhood version of the Narnia series (you can read my books reviews for that story), I would have given a lot just to have an updated catalog. But I didn't need it enough to keep the system up-to-date in the future—its usually possible to just ask around in my family for who has seen/was last reading a book. And in the case of Narnia, my sister ultimately found many of the books in her bag, never emptied since the last trip we took before the pandemic, a year and a half ago.