Cataloging at home, for fun

A lot of librarians hate cataloging. I love it. That’s why I’m such a nerd, I’ve even cataloged my entire personal book collection over at LibraryThing. It’s a terrific site, btw, even if you’re not up to such bibliographic devotion. You can find excellent reviews, take part in discussions, find recommendations. And why not catalog your books? Once you do, you can really look at them in an in-depth way. Cataloging is about access. The more you arrange and describe something, or a collection of somethings, the more access you have to it. The more use you can get out of it. And, as an added bonus on LibraryThing, it makes finding other bibliophiles of like minds easy.

But you can “catalog” a lot more than just your books. I like having everything labeled and set up just so. My computer files and folders are very structured. I’ve been using for years, and my obsession with defining my tagging system there was epic. (Don’t ask me about Flickr, I beg you — do you want to see a grown woman cry? I’ve got thousands of photos on there and the fact that I haven’t found the time to tag them the way they should be eats at me.)

The reason I fell in love with iTunes from day one is that it’s terrific for organizing your music files. For every file I import, I can make sure it’s got all the right metadata, I can add lyrics and missing details, I can get the right artwork. And when it’s all done, I can find anything in my collection. I can rearrange it and look at it and access it however I want. It’s enough to make my little geeky classification-nutty heart pound. iTunes will import album artwork for you, so that’s easy enough. I use a little shareware program called iArt to hunt down lyrics; it doesn’t always work as well as I wish it would but it was good for getting the bulk of them at the get-go. Beware of lyrics sites, by the way, the ones you find if you just type in “don’t stop believin lyrics” into Google. A lot of those sites have adware and crap that can latch onto your computer. I usually rely on instead. And lately, I’ve been importing video into iTunes more — there are usually a few free episodes offered every month, and I’ve bought some on Amazon, and so on. So I’m putting those in my iTunes library as well. Usually I’ve got the artwork for those, but if not, Get Video Artwork is a great site (with a boring, if descriptive name) for that.

It’s nerdy in a lot of ways to be this obsessed with organization and cataloging, but otoh, as more and more of our music and movies and books are now digital, I suspect finding ways to organize and access these materials is going to become increasingly important to everyone — not just us geeks.