The library problem
describes a couples' efforts to create a database of their books and categorise their books on shelves for easy access.
I've read a few of the first comments (no way can I find the time to read them all) but this one is very wise if you ever find yourself looking at your bookshelves: "you've got to plan for expansion!" I am running out of room myself and so far the solution has been to trash/recycle some books but I'm running out of options there too. (In the end every book that's worthy of a space will be something I wouldn't mind re-reading at some point. Books that haven't been read at all and that have been with me for about 5 years tend to get dumped, if I couldn't find the time and interest to read them in those 5 years the likelihood of me ever reading them is approaching zero.) I might have to clean up the work room and expand into that at some point.
My cataloging solution is to categorise books in 2 main sections: 1. fiction and literature, 2. science, computer and misc. Books in the first category are sorted alphabetically by author's last name on the shelves, they are also entered into a very simple Filemaker Pro database* that lists author, title, date of purchase and date of first publication (even if it's a reprint of 15 years later). The date fields are really only there because at some point I thought it might be interesting to look at these for some analysis but so far I haven't had the inclination. The database has been with me for about 15 years now. I have almost 1000 books in this category.
Books in science (etc) aren't indexed and placed as much as possible next to books on the same subject. I have approx 2 meters of this stuff which is about 200 books, although it's a tad more if you count the comics.
*) It's really very simplistic, I keep thinking that it might be nice to rework this but the sheer amount of work puts me off. In contrast the Filemaker Pro database I have of my video and dvd collection is a lot nicer to look at. It lists title, director, principal actors, genre, imdb url, medium and an id number. It also contains a picture of the cover from Amazon or imdb which livens up the display a lot.