How to organize vinyl records
Posted on March 14 2022
If you're having a hard time getting started on your record organization project, or need help determining how many record dividers you need, here are a few helpful tips to get started:
PICK A METHOD
Decide on a method first. Alphabetical by artist is most common, but organizing by genre, decade, or experience may be more practical for you. Pick a method that feels manageable to maintain and engaging to use. If alphabetical organization feels too strict, genre, decade or experienc- based organization may be more useful. Many folks like a hybrid, using A-Z to organize the bulk of their collections and then some separate sections by genre. Go with the method that fits your collection.
Next, grab a stack of post-its to use as stand ins for dividers, so you can play around with number, placement and method before committing to a record divider order.
Sort all your records and add a post-it at the beginning of each section. Once you're done, take a step back and review.
The goal with record dividers should be to make your collection more accessible and add wayfinding that helps you use your collection more. Too many dividers or too few might lead to frustration down the line. If some sections look crowded and post-its are too close together, take out some post-its.
If you’ve added 26 A- Z post-its and it looks crowded, try using just 6 or 11 post-its to see if that is enough to help orient you quickly and easily in your collection. Many folks *think* they need a full 26 panel set, but once you try this trick, you might realize the 11 panel A-Z set is perfect for you too.
BREAK UP LARGE SECTIONS
If you've got large sections without any post-its, review each section to decide if it makes sense to break that section up with some additional divisions. If you’ve got 300 Jazz records, would it make sense to add 3 A-Z dividers? If you have a whole shelf without any division, are there any ways to divide it to make it easier to navigate?
If you mostly collect one primary genre (like Rock or Pop for example), and just have a small selection of different genres or artists, it may make sense to pull those out in their own section, so they don’t get lost in alphabetical order.
Once you’ve placed your post-its and feel good about the arrangement, walk away. Over the next few days, really explore your collection. Is it easy to find what you need? Are there any additional experience based sections that would be helpful, like In Rotation (for records you reach for often) or Dirty Vinyl (for records that need cleaning) or Sell (for records you’re ready to part with)? Think about your plans for your collection over the next several years... Is your collection going to grow, or will it stay around the same size? Will the divisions you’ve placed on continue to be helpful if you add more records to each section?
For my own collection of 300+ records on these shelves shown above, I started out with 26 A-Z post-its and 4 genre post-its. After some refinement, the system that works for 300+ records here is 11 A-Z record divider set and 2 genre panels and one custom panel.
Live with those post-its for a few days, and when you're happy with the number of dividers, you're ready to order! The next decision you’ll need to make is lettering style for your dividers. We have a post to help you choose which lettering style is right for you.