I’m generally a pretty organized guy. Well, some would even call me a neat freak. Okay, okay, let’s say my wife and daughter have called me that once. Or twice.
Over the past few years, I’ve really ramped up the amount of collected research material as I got serious about writing books and articles, more so than when I was putting together my website. My researcher sends me a lot of material on a weekly basis, I’ve probably purchased about 500 books in just the past five years or so, and copied huge amounts of material in repositories and collections in that time frame. All of which began forming a clutter in my library that I just couldn’t take anymore.
The piles and piles of papers were getting unwieldy. In the back of my library is a large closet, about 60 square feet, the floor of which was nearly covered with paper piles. For the Stuart’s Ride book project, I would use a particular source and then put it in the piles. God help me if I had to try to go back and find a particular paper in those piles – it could take hours. Much of the piles contained sources I’d accumulated for future projects – with nothing grouped together. Some smaller shelves in the closet were already stuffed with binders full of copies of books and newspaper articles. As I’ve posted previously, Microsoft’s new online historical book site has been keeping my printer busy as I print off dozens of useful books, with no organized place to store them.
Having a vacation day yesterday (Tuesday) motivated me to finally organize this closet. My wife had to work all day, so I knew I’d be able to work on the closet without bothering anyone. In the morning I went to Lowe’s and loaded up on 6 oak shelves, all the necessary brackets and hardware, and other things I’d need. When I got back home, the closet, of course, needed cleaning out.
I took all the piles of papers and boxes out, creating one huge pile on the floor in the library. Good thing the better half wasn’t home, because if she’d seen the mess she would have thought I was nuts. Plus, she probably doesn’t realize that even I had this much “stuff.” Hell, I didn’t either until I had everything out and piled up.
I set up my radial saw in the garage, and cut all the shelving needed. I put the brackets on the wall, and once installed I had over 50 linear feet of new shelving. I broke for lunch and determined that by the time my wife got home at 4pm, everything in the closet was going to be organized.
Well, I almost made it. When she got home I was still putting the last of the binders and new folders on the shelves, but I was nearly done. Now, the binders of newspaper articles has its own shelf, with each binder neatly labeled. Same for the binders containing copies of books and large manuscript material. There are still some piles of unfiled papers – but now they’re on the shelves and organized by subject matter, ready to be put into their own binders and folders. This I’ll do over the coming weeks. As more material comes in from my researcher and other sources, it’ll have a place to go where I can find it easily and work with it.
I’m happy, the wife’s happy, and I can find everything for my current book and articles project.
Oh, and I discovered that the floor of the closet is carpeted – I had forgotten because I hadn’t seen it in years…