xposted at frontline books:
After another busy week and weekend, I'm happy to spend Sunday evening winding down. If I could knit, I'd probably do that. (This video will probably help me get started)Instead, I feel an urge (beyond my years I'm sure) to organise. Organise what you might ask. Well, I am not going to rearrange my own shelves of books.
I firmly believe that those books arrange themselves at will. My research favourites, always at the ready (right mum!), spread over my desk, computer, mouse pad, and even balanced precariously on my light. My best friend books, the ones I enjoy leafing through, touching, musing over, revisiting again and again, pages slightly bruised, find suitably prominent perches, often at the edges of protruding shelves. The colourful travel books, arranged meticulously by size on a shelf all their own, their glossy covers glowing above the dark hard backed classics huddled next to the atlas, dictionaries (Latin to English, Italian to English, French to English), encyclopaedias, and other over-sized books. The cookbooks, of which there are now too many, wrestle with each other, and the large collection of maps my finance insists on keeping in between *my* treasures thankfully (possibly with a little help) flit down to less accessible areas (like behind or under the bookshelves). Then there are the bedtime books, assorted short stories, poetry collections, diaries, and *fun* reads strewn about mercilessly on the bedside table, bedroom drawers, and even (occasionally) in the wardrobe. But, I always know how to find what I’m looking for so thank goodness I haven’t (yet) succumbed to fellow book lovers’ cajolery to alphabetise my books or arrange them by genre, or even (and this I might try) imagine the authors at a dinner party and sit them next to suitable conversational partners – Woolf might well enjoy sharing poetic epiphanies with Hejinian and I’m sure Dante could learn a thing or two from Spivak. (For those of you more rigorous in arrangement of your libri, Henri Petroski offers On the Book Shelf.
What I am going to arrange instead are my electronic texts. My poor “c” drive is straining at the seams with zeros and ones from here to oblivion. But, perhaps organising my entire c drive is too much to ask for a Sunday evening? I think I shall instead concentrate on organising one of my most important folders in the c drive: “texts.” Now, texts is a folder, much like a bookshelf, to which I turn to every day that I use my computer. I have books, essays, poems, e-mails, interviews, notes, chapter ideas, bibliographies, and other assorted bits and bobs in this folder. However, I have been lax in my organising. I did try, I promise. I began with the idea to arrange work by concept. So, hypertext grew, and grew, until within the folder hypertext are now other folders, feminist hypertext, hypertext critique, hypertext theory, 2nd wave hypertext, and the list goes on. Then I thought I’d try another tack, I would organise by author’s name and so each could have her or his own shelf…erm, I mean folder. But what is an organiser to do when Braidotti’s article is on cyberfeminism? Does that go in the Braidotti author folder or in the feminist hypertext folder within the hypertext folder or simply within the feminisms folder or what about the becomings one? Arg…the complications.
Sadly, I cannot just visit a friend or colleague or librarian (or ph.d supervisor) and scan their shelves for hints and tips on e-book organisation. Until (insert jubilant cry!) social bookmarking came on the scene. [For an excellent background on social bookmarking sites visit here or here] Thanks to sites like delicious and magnolia, I can now run my mouse over their shelves, contemplate arrangements, and decide what to copy (note to self: arrange tags into sets) and on what to congratulate myself. Although delicious and other online bookmarking sites are not a collection of people’s c drives, they are a collection of online bookmarks or favourites (as in web sites). Instead of keeping a list of your favourite sites in your explorer menu or safari bookmarks (etc…) you can save your sites to a list you keep online. If you are worried about identity theft or just plain secretive, you can keep all your favourites private; for your eyes only. If you appreciate the concept of social bookmarking (and/or are nosey like me) you can share your bookmarks with others using the service. This is helpful on many fronts:
- It frees up space on your computer (I had a very looooong list of favourites)
- You can access your favourites from any internet enabled computer
- You can easily find your favourite sites according to various tags (so, Braidotti’s Cyberfeminism article can be tagged with “Braidotti,” “cyberfeminism,” “article,” “academic,” “research,” “nomadic,” “feminism,” “becoming.”)
- You can view what other users bookmark with the same tags (folksonomy). Do others have interesting articles under the tag “cyberfeminism”?
- (This is my favourite one!) You can find out a little bit about someone by the sites they bookmark (Sue knows I was dying to view her delicious and bloglines!) and how they bookmark them (we’ll leave this for another day though).
- As a pedagogical tool, a teacher might direct students to her or his own delicious bookmarks as a way into academic sources rather than risk students consult Wikipedia (and that is definitely a post for another day!) I’m sure there are more reasons for social booking marking and please feel free to share them.
As Jay Parini notes, "a personal library is an X-ray of the owner’s soul. It offers keys to a particular temperament, an intellectual disposition, a way of being in the world. Even how the books are arranged on the shelves deserves notice, even reflection. There is probably no such thing as complete chaos in such arrangements," so please do point my mouse in the direction of your online bookshelves.
(Image from here)