Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why I Changed From Category Albums to Chronological Albums (& a new video!)

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love my Library of Memories system based on Stacy Julian’s approach to photo organization and inspirational scrapbooking and taught at Big Picture Classes. There are many components to this system including a Digital Workflow, Storage Binders, Category Drawers, Cold Storage, Library Albums, a Memorabilia File, Connections Layouts, a Cultural Memorabilia Box, Materials Files, Square Punch Picture Drawers, an ABC file, Story Cards, etc. The system is designed to promote inspirational scrapbooking – creating layouts when you’re inspired about what inspires you at the moment. All of these components work very well for me . . . except one.

Stacy’s Library of Memories system incorporates albums based on categories – All About Us, People We Love, Places We Go, Things We Do. When I initially set up my system and for a couple of years afterwards, these category albums worked well for me. However, after a major re-organization of my albums in early 2012, I realized that I was not enjoying them and rarely looked through the albums unless I was adding in new layouts. At the same time, I often pulled out my chronological photo albums from 2003-2006 when something triggered a memory from one of those years and I wanted to see what else had been happening around that time (or occasionally to prove to Robbie that I was right about the chronology of something we were discussing!).

This realization got me thinking about the category albums and Stacy’s reasoning for them. Basically her premise is that often stories and biographies are grouped by topic or category (like the TV mini-series The Century, which was a documentary on the 20th century), so it made sense to her to organize her stories that way. Many of you know that I am an avid reader, and I realized that the stories and biographies and autobiographies that I enjoy the most are the ones that are told in a chronological order (with occasional flashbacks or flash-forwards). I tend to think of events within the time frame that they occurred.

About this same time, Shimelle offered a class on album organization based on the way she organizes her own albums. The Cover to Cover class helped me decide to return to chronological albums for each year. I took all the layouts out of my Category Albums and sorted them by year (but I forgot to take a photo of them all spread out in piles on the dining room table!). I then put albums together for each year – some years have one album, some two, and one even has three albums! I do also still have one Category Album along with numerous theme albums and mini-albums. All these albums comprise my LIBRARY and I love it!

As with Shimelle’s albums, most of my albums are “in process” – meaning that they are not complete and I am still scrapping photos and stories from those years. However, this past fall, I took my 2007 albums and went through them looking for “missing elements” based on Shimelle’s suggestion to look for missing photos, missing stories, and missing perspective. I made a list of pages I wanted to create to complete the album adding in these missing elements and including cross-referencing for theme albums I had created with photos from that year. I completed the 2007 albums (2 volumes) near the end of 2012 and have created a video for you sharing a look at one of those albums.

I must tell you that I have no intention of scrapbooking my layouts in chronological order. Those of you who visit my blog often know that one day I might share a layout with photos from 1986, the next post might share a layout with more recent photos, and then next one might share a layout with photos from 2010! I especially like how my Library of Memories system allows me to scrap inspirationally – my Storage Binders are full of photos ready for me to scrap, my Category Drawers hold photos that I am “aging” for Connections layouts, my Square Punch Picture Drawers hold photos I can pull to add to a layout anytime, and my Memorabilia File and Cultural Memorabilia Box are close at hand allowing me to add memorabilia to many layouts. So, the only change I’ve really made is the final resting place of my layouts.

I’d love your thoughts and feedback on these changes and on this new video (my 2nd video!). I appreciate those of you who left comments on my first video last summer and have tried to incorporate some of your ideas. However, I have to admit that I still probably talk a little too fast and I just can’t seem to keep my hands from moving most of the time. (I’m afraid if I lost my hands I wouldn’t be able to teach or talk! LOL)


  1. (I have not watched the video yet as I am at lunch and at work but I will) I did the same thing you did, went from Chronological to LOM and back to chronological. I really like to see how my life flows through the years. But (there is always a but. . .) I really like the idea of the 4 different categories. I am contemplating putting my albums by year but then divided into the US, PEOPLE, PLACES, & THINGS. Since taking 12, I think this will help me when I go back and make pages to look at things a little differently and make different kinds of pages. I know I struggle when I make a people/personality page I never know where to put it. This might help if the photos fall in that year. Hope that make sense.
    I will keep you posted.
    Thanks for all you do. ~Ann

  2. you? talk fast? NAAAAHHHHH! great job

  3. Great video, Melissa! Your pictures are clear and the volume was great. Loved hearing about how you are reworking your LOM to work for you! I follow you in Google Reader, so I hadn't seen your new blog header. Love your scrappy, happy place! So fun with the yellow and red.
    --tyfb at BPC

  4. I'm not in a place were I can watch the video right now but I wanted to say thank you for sharing your process. I really suggested with the US, People, Places ant things albums. I just don't think that way. I like the yearly albums that just are not complete. I'll have to look into Shimelle's class, sounding like something that would help me.

  5. Great stuff Melissa! i think you have a wonderful voice for video and your commentary was a pleasure to listen to

  6. I teach photo organization classes and believe that there is room for whatever type of scrapbooking you want to do. Personally I do a combination of things and have about a dozen albums going at all times. My chronological albums contain the unusual things that happen every year---rather than the same old holidays and birthdays. That might change too, since this is the first year I'm trying Project Life---but on a monthly basis. That will become my chronological album. Loved your video.

  7. Don't have the time to watch the vid right now but I'll come back to see it later. I just can't do the chrono thing but if the reorg helped you and you like your albums better, awesome! As long as it works for you, that's all that is important! :)

  8. Melissa, we think alike! I took the Library of Memories Class and then Shimelle's and using the best of both, I found a system that works for me - yearly albums along with some upgrade albums for things like vacations. My system is still evolving but so far it's working for me.

    I always look forward to reading your blog and seeing your layouts!


  9. What a wonderful idea to show us a whole scrapbook. I enjoyed your video. I have my kids' early years in very loose chronological order in post-bound albums. I look forward to the day when they are done. I have since switched to ring bound albums based on topic.

  10. Melissa,
    I love this post!
    I also scrap chronologically (except for my travel/trip albums and my kids school/sports albums), and I love it. Sometimes I feel like I'm all alone in doing this.
    Thanks for sharing,

  11. Your video turned out great! I am so happy to see that we are clearly not alone in our need for chronological order in our albums. The flow of your 2007 volume 1 was very well done!

  12. I started out using Stacy's system, but have given up on that as well. I have a separate album for Travel layouts, and an album for layouts about our home(s), but the most recent albums have the layouts in them as I created them. Someday I may do what you have done and rearrange them, but for now it works for me. They end up being mostly chronological, but I may add some layouts about older topics or photos into them as well. Those are usually relationship layouts so they fit in anywhere.

  13. Melissa, I finally got a few minutes to watch your video. Nicely done! I love everything about LOM, but I have always struggled with the album categories. Currently I do have my topics in separate albums, e.g. People We Love, All About Us, etc. And I have the layouts in each of the albums in chrono order. But I really think I would like all of my page in chrono order. You have really made me think about this a little harder. I have thought about taking Shimelle's cover to cover class. I just may have to now. Anyhoo, going to try to find your first video now. tfs!

  14. Melissa, I found this blog post via your comment on Paperclipping (re: finishing an album), and found this quite interesting. We sound very similar in our journey. I started out with a slight mish-mash of albums roughly in chrono order, then switched to an LOM system in 2007. I recently switched back over to a more chronological system. I find the LOM photo organisation system and the chrono story albums to be a perfect combination for me.

    Enjoyed the video. Love seeing into other people's albums. :)


Thanks so much for your comment - it's like a ray of sunshine in my day!