How do you sort your MLs?

Sun Oct 17 16:50:17 EDT 2004

I sort first by series -- regular ML, Giants, Illustrated 
ML, ML Paperbacks.  I collect ML books to support my Modern 
Library bibliography, so (within each series) I sort the 
books chronologically by publication date, which is how 
descriptive bibliographies are usually organized.  Madame 
Bovary, first published in 1917, was the 25th title 
published in the series.  I have 19 variants of Madame 
Bovary illustrating the evolution of that title from 1917 to 
1978.  They're all shelved (chronologically of course) under 
1917.  The chronological arrangement has helped me identify 
and date many changes in format and design (and other 
trends) that I might not have noticed otherwise.  Of course 
when I'm looking for a particular title I sometimes have to 
consult by alphabetical index.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 17 Oct 2004 13:16:44 -0700
>From: Scot Kamins <kamins at>  
>Subject: How do you sort your MLs?  
>To: ML LIstServ <modlib at>
>When I first started collecting MLs, I sorted the books by 
>type (pre-8, 8-14. giants), alphabetically within type. I 
didn't have 
>that many pieces, so when I wanted to pull a volume to read 
it was 
>easy to scan for what I wanted.
>When my collection grew beyond a couple hundred titles, 
this became 
>inconvenient. Sometimes I wanted a novel, sometimes a 
volume of 
>poetry - but being over 50, my powers of recall had become 
not as 
>good as they once were. "Who was that sharp-tongued woman 
from the 
>Algonquin Group who wrote all those great short stories?" 
Scanning 30 
>or 40 titles looking for the book was one thing - but 
scanning over 
>ten times that many became a problem.
>So I sorted my collection by genres - poetry, drama, short 
>novels, biography, essays, philosophy, religion, 
psychology, and so 
>on - in alphabetic order by author, with each section 
starting with 
>anthologies of miscellaneous authors sorted by title. I 
ended up with 
>fifteen areas or so. (I keep all the illustrateds and the 
>together, with the buckrams sorted numerically just for 
fun.) This 
>was a fine solution - scanning the short stories area was 
much easier 
>now ("Oh - there she is - Dorothy Parker - right!"). Novels 
>still a problem because there were so many of them, but I 
>The problem came when I began selling my collection. I have 
>descriptions and values for most of the books in a 
database; I 
>exported the database files to HTML tables, and that's what 
ended up 
>as my For Sale lists at Dogeared. When someone ordered a 
book, I'd go 
>to the shelves and pull the title for verification and 
>But in the database I neglected to create a field 
called "genre." 
>Where did I put Homer? He was a poet (genre: Poetry), but I 
>recall if the translations were done into prose - and if 
so, were 
>they with the Novels or in the Mythology section? (Answer: 
Poetry for 
>both him and Virgil, because when I studied them in High 
>And Nostradamus - where the heck did I put him? (Answer: 
>for "Prophesy). Flame of Life - what the heck was that???
>(By the way, Flame of Life is how the Titles index at 
Dogeared came 
>about. Without searching can you recall who wrote that - 
and what 
>genre it's in?)
>So this is a long-winded way of asking: How do you sort 
your MLs, and 
>why? What have you found are the shortcomings of that 
>Scot Kamins
>"Modern Library books are intended to be read and not just 
to be 
>stuck away in bookcases like old sets of Balzac and Victor 
>                    - Bennett Cerf
Gordon B. Neavill
Associate Professor
Library and Information Science Program
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
aa3401 at 

More information about the ModLib mailing list