24 December 2010

Creating my own Library of Alexandria

The Royal Library of Alexandria, located in Alexandria, Egypt, was once the largest and most significant in the world.  It is usually assumed to have been founded at the beginning of the 3rd century BC during the reign of Ptolemy II of Egypt after his father (Ptolemy I Soter, 323 to 283 BCE) had set up the temple of the Muses, the Musaeum (from where we get the word "Museum").  The initial organization is attributed to Demetrius Phalereus, and is estimated to have stored at its peak 400,000 to 700,000 parchment scrolls.

The library was featured in a recent movie, "Hypatia", based around the Alexandrian scholar and philosopher who, born between 350 and 370 CE, was considered to be considered the first notable woman of mathematics, teaching philosophy and astromony.  Hypatia died in March 415 CE by a Christian mob who accused her of causing religious turmoil.

Bookcase in the lounge
 I have always been a lover of books, something I proudly have inherited from my parents, both of whom are avid readers.  Rarely does a fortnight go by without me scouring bookshops (in particular second hand and discounted sellers in search of a bargain) or various online sites, including small, independent publishers, in order to acquire something of interest. 

I have tried to ween myself off this seeming addiction, however without much success.  As a result of this behaviour spanning over a decade (possibly two), my book shelves are overflowing with an assortment of topics, from those typically found on a Pagan bookcase, to the more obsecure.  Added to this is my collection of periodicals that I have subscribed to over the years.

One corner of the library -
the blank space awaiting
the new shelving
With the official coven duties having wound down for the Summer break, I have decided that it was about time that I properly catelogue the collection in an attempt to make it easier for students and Inner Court member of the Temple of the Dark Moon to find books they wish to read. 

About half way through, and with some 600 books categorised thus far, one of the hardest aspects of this job has been the assigning appropriate categories without there being too many or the categories being too vague.  Determining whether a book, for example, should be classified as "Pagan" as opposed to "Wicca" or even "traditional Craft", or simply as "magick" rather than "Ceremonial Magick" or even "occult". 

The next stage is, once the additional shelving has been installed in the library (the idea of individual bookcases was replace by near floor to ceiling adjustable shelving a number of years ago), will be to group the various categories together - ie, so that the women's spirituality books can be found in roughly the same spot as those books written about specific Goddesses as opposed to mythology in general.

Other corner of the library

With books spilling out of the library into other rooms of the house, an attempt has been to made to assign those relating to mythology, sacred sites and even aspects of metaphysics and alternative healing to be housed on the bookcase that are more on display, whereby those more occult orientated, and in particular those relating to more controverisal subjects (such as Luciferian Wytchcraft and even the Left Hand Path), to be found within the library itself.  With the additional shelving, I am hoping that there will be room for the videos and DVDs to be added as well as this is another collection that appears to grow without much effort.

Once the books and periodicals are finally organised, time will be needed to delve deep in to the filing cabinets and see what lurks within those drawers that has long been forgotten about.  When this mammouth task has been completed it is hoped that when students ask me whether I have this book or a copy of a particular magazine or article, that I will be able to locate it within a short period of time without standing wishfully at the shelves in an attempt that the book would make itself known to me - only to realise that I am looking in the wrong section :) 

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