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Taming the Record Pile

Filed Under: Small Spaces, Storage & Organization

If you'll never in a million years convert your record albums to mp3s, you're in good company. But when your LPs start to overwhelm your shelf space, it's time to get creative. Here's how I took control of my collection's overstock.

record-albummoustache, flickr



"Why don't you organize your record albums by color?" suggested the friend-of-a-friend who watched me attempt to unload my latest record store haul into the packed cabinet underneath my record player.

"Or better yet, why don't you just give most of them away? Or just convert them to mp3s...and then give them away," she continued.

You either "get" the idea of records, or you don't. This friend-of-a-friend clearly was in the latter camp. For her, she would just keep on skipping through life immune to the odd suspense of rummaging through 70's basement-smelling stacks in the hopes of finding a copy of "Arthur (Or The Decline and Fall of the British Empire)." And that's fine, because who needs people like that clogging up the stacks anyway. When she reads the inevitable trend story about the resurgence of vinyl, she will probably get her records from Urban Outfitters, next to a stack of clothes last seen on the set of "Clarissa Explains It All." I'll pretend, when she brings over her $30 find, that this conversation about converting records to music files never took place. Or when she eventually uses it for crafting.

A record is just different from an mp3. There's the whole bit about the pops and crackles, the sound quality, etc. But for me, listening to a record is a time-out. I generally listen start-to-finish, mostly because I have lots of 60's comedy records that have to be heard that way. This means sitting down and paying attention. If you catch yourself, you realize that you've been staring off into the middle distance for a half hour and that the worries you brought home with you are now gone.

wondermonkey2k, flickr

But I digress. The problem isn't with collecting records but with storing them. There aren't a ton of products on the market designed specifically for holding oversized (and often falling apart) albums. There's plenty of things like record frames for those who like to display albums, but then there's the accessibility problem.

Enter the crate. Used by the more old-school shops, the plastic milk crate is the right size for holding records. It's just...ugly. And there's a whole thing about the ethics of acquiring milk crates. (Owned by dairy vendors, the crates are not for grocery stores to give away. So if you take one, it's stealing.) And when the records are placed in a crate, they tend to slide as you remove albums.

So what I did was take a 13-inch storage bin (which has enough space for a 12-inch LP) and lined it with a large wire dish rack. When I added records, the slots in the rack cradled the albums into groups, creating an ersatz filer.

And no, I did not organize anything by color.

Want to learn more ways to organize your old-timey things like record albums, newspaper clippings and the like? Check out..





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