If you’ve been scrapbooking for any length of time, you know just how quickly your layouts can pile up. If you don’t have an album system in place or even if you do, it’s a good exercise to think about how you store your pages and whether or not it’s working for you.
For the past four weeks, I’ve taken part in Shimelle’s Cover to Cover class where she discusses her album organization system and ways to start a system of your own or improve on a system you already have.
I currently organize my albums in categories. I took Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories class at Big Picture Classes in 2007 and it was life changing for me.
I’ll never forget the moment that Stacy’s message penetrated. She told a story of how she was reminiscing with her Mom and they spent a morning chatting about childhood memories that spanned many years. But they didn’t say…(my paraphrasing here) “OK, let’s talk about all the memories we can think of that occurred in 1975, starting January. No skipping around and no memories from 1974 or 1976 or any other year.”
It was a “Duh.” moment for me. Our brains recall things at random. One memory leads to another but it doesn’t flow in date order. I had always organized my albums in chronological order because it never occurred to me to do it any other way. But chronological order wasn’t working for me and I needed a change.
Different ways to organize an album
While there are unlimited ways you could conceive of to organize your albums, most of us go with chronological order or by category.
Chronological simply means having your layouts in date order. You could have one (or as many as you need) album for each year and you place the layouts in order by the date of the photos on your layouts beginning in January and ending in December.
Organizing by category means dividing your layouts into different themes. For the Library of Memories system, the categories are us, people we love, places we go and things we do. I simplified my categories even further to be Me – self explanatory, People – family, nephews, friends, etc… Places – theme parks, city parks, the beach, home, specific cities, etc… and Things – sports, current events, weather, daily life, four seasons, etc…
Categories could also mean albums for each child, family albums, vacation albums, an album for celebrations and holidays, etc… The categories are only limited by how much each scrapbooker wants to limit them.
There is no right or wrong way. It’s a matter of personal preference and what works best for how you scrapbook and organize.
Types of albums
While there are many types of albums on the market — from strap hinge albums to Creative Memories style albums where you create your layout on the paper inside of the book — the two most popular styles are post-bound and 3-ring.
Post-bound albums use metal binding posts with screw heads on both ends of a post — one stationary, one movable — to tightly hold page protectors between the front and back covers. The facing pages in the album fit right up next to each other.
3-ring albums use clamp rings just like you would find in an office style 3-ring binder. The rings are attached to the binding spine and hold page protectors more loosely between the front and back covers. The facing pages do not fit up against each other.
There are pros and cons to each style. Again, it’s about personal choice and what works best for you. If you can’t decide or don’t know if you’ll like one over another, buy one album in a different style and use it for a specific use – like a cruise or a trip. Try it out and if you don’t like that style, you haven’t made a big commitment.
My story continues
In 2007, I was at a crossroads in terms of my scrapbooking. Using post bound albums (and keeping them in chronological order) caused me complete frustration. My bulky pages did not lay nicely within the tight confines of the post bound style. I hated reordering my layouts when I created a new one that fit between two existing pages. It was glaringly obvious (to me) the parts of my life I was intentionally skipping and will not be scrapbooking. Eventually, I stopped adding layouts to my albums because it was too time consuming. I almost gave it up.
But per Stacy’s direction in that class, I took a chance and implemented a category album system. I converted all of my post bound chronological albums to category albums in one weekend. Most of my layouts had dates on them, so I knew that I could reorder them again if needed. I am not intimidated by big organization projects, so I spread all of my layouts out on the dining room table and got to work.
It was the single best thing I have ever done to improve my scrapbooking.
I loved the 3-ring albums from the moment I started using them. Inserting new layouts and reordering pages was a breeze. They allowed more give between the pages so my bulkier pages weren’t getting squished. 90% of my layouts are single page so the gutter or gap between the pages has never bothered me.
Best of all, the categories alleviated my anxiety over the gaping periods I won’t be scrapbooking. And if there are things I never get around to scrapbooking, that’s OK too. My categories are like mini albums unto themselves and you don’t notice anything missing. I have been very happy with my system.
But that said, no system is perfect and any system can benefit from tweaks and upgrades. So I took Shimelle’s class to get a different perspective. I asked myself, are categories still the best way for me? Is random the best way to order them? With my random album categories, do my pages flow? Are my stories complete?
The answers surprised me and I’ll share them later this week.
How do you currently organize your layouts?
Thanks for stopping by today!