Sorting vinyl record storage shelves vinyl

Collection Management Nerdery: An Exhaustive Project

sorting record collection vinyl shelves storage

Since the dawn of time, the awkward shut-in record collector has dreamed of a better way of filing their slabs of black wax. A single misplaced vinyl record set me down this path of endless cataloging and sorting. All this in hopes that one day I’d figure out a system that works. While I have not yet succeeded at this goal, I may have something that works this time.

The current common storage solution for many collectors is from a certain Swedish furniture retailer. I started moving my collection over to using those types of shelves sometime last year. I have now moved almost everything over and out of milk crates and plywood & cinderblock shelves. Now that my storage seems finally permanent, it’s nearing time for me to start the next start of the project: organization.

There are several schools of thought on sorting & organizing your records. The most intuitive and easy to follow is strict alphabetical by artist. There’s also sorting by genre, decade, mood…it’s endless. Your records need to be sorted for you and you alone. Choose something that works with your style of organization, or lack thereof.

It’s taken me sometime to realize, but I need a good deal of chaos and wiggle room for a sorting method to work for me. My rapid unstructured collection growth makes separate sections for each style or genre impractical. Strict alphabetical is out too. I can’t shift over a dozen crates because I have too many Bossa Nova records or too many records by artists that start with the letter R. The creation of sample-based music does not lend itself well to strict sorting methods either.

sorting vinyl record storage shelves vinyl

With my collection now in normal sized cubes, it hit me to assign each one an ID in grid style system. Rows are letters A through D (B for 2x high ones). Columns start at 00 and currently are running through 27. This way I can isolate something in my collection down to a more easy to dig through location without having to sacrifice organic chaos.

Check it out: I currently have one whole cube completely finished — D09.  At this phase in my DB career, I want to make sure everything is completely documented with full images, companies, run out etchings, credits… I am also adding exhaustive notes and regrading everything. Custom fields like additional notes fields, custom grades and more fields can be added in settings, linked here. The system is rather flexible for different people’s styles and needs.

There are many more benefits beyond being able to determine collection value. The collection is one of the key features of discogs that doesn’t get much recognition. A well documented collection can save you thousands of dollars in accidental duplicate purchases and missed condition upgrade opportunities. It can also give you a chance to better connect with other collectors and make new friends and contacts. If you haven’t done so yet, go on and create your account and start plugging in your collection today!

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  • Jan 26,2017 at 15:32

    Well ok, it’s a good idea to link Discogs database with your own physical collection (the grid) if you have a very large collection, and it’s also a good idea to make use of the folders feature in Discogs. Well and good, but what I hate about Discogs “collection” is its total inability to file anything correctly, either by title or author/performer; I would have thought that by now Discogs would have learned how to igonore definite/indefinite articles in all languages; this affects filing by author/performer and title. Discogs also seems to think it’s ok to allow contributors to create as titles forms of words which actually denote a series statement, e.g. “vol.”. Look at John Fahey’s first half dozen albums for a really good example of this. Discogs never responds to any suggestions put to them, though they say they welcome them. Seems like a lot of effort for nothing …

  • […] the grid style organization system I posted about last year, I started at cube A00 and am currently looking at A02. This so far […]

  • Mar 8,2016 at 20:11

    I was just looking for something to track which shelf a given CD was on… my records are in Kallax and those I use the gride system for. But CDs are considerably easier to move, and mostly kept in order so my wife doesn’t go crazy trying to figure out where I put that one CD she wants to listen to…

    Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any useful pre-built software based way of tracking which shelf any given thing is on… It’s like most people don’t have collections in the thousands or something.

  • Mar 7,2016 at 19:58

    I realized a few years ago that I wanted to sort my vinyl into two main groups, with a few additional sub-groups within each one. The two main groups are original vinyl (up to around the late nineties) and new vinyl. From there, I have two sections within each group for genre (Electronic/Pop/Rock, and everything else). I then have another three sections based on format: 7″ singles, 12″ singles and 10″ records/box sets. I’ve tried many other sorting methods in the past, but this one seems to work best for me. I really like having all my original, mostly analogue vinyl sorted separately from my new, mostly digitally sourced vinyl.

  • Mar 3,2016 at 23:04

    I do something similar as well. Yes it would be a very big pain to keep things alphabetized. What a nightmare to have to move records around all the time. As I buy a record it goes in the next available Ikea cube with space. All my Ikea Kallax are color coded and each cube has a number. So if I have a black, white and red kallax. And the black and white are all fill and I have just finished filling half the red, the next record I buy is going in Red,5. When I catalog it to my clollection I have added custom columns for cube number and rack name. I do alphabetize within each cube, but that is it. Makes it VERY SUPER EASY. Want to find Olivia “Physical” just look it up in the discogs collection and it tells exactly which rack and cube.

  • Mar 3,2016 at 20:08

    Life’s too short for that kind of sorting. Spend more time listening and just put them in alphabetical order.

  • Mar 3,2016 at 18:15

    Thanks for posting. Congrats on getting this far.

    Off topic: What are your thoughts on the best way to clean a big batch of dusty records upon acquisition? What is your method? I have > 150 to do, and I haven’t settled on a method.

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