I have been trying to compile a catalog of the books on my shelves
for a long time.
It seems important, both from inventory organization standpoint,
but more from a
"Show me your bookshelves and I will tell you who you are"
(I will be talking about books here;
the situation with CDs is even worse
(a lot worse, actually)).
At first I thought the most difficult part of it would be to create the tool for managing the catalog; but I soon realized that the actual going through all the shelves was so time-consuming as to be prohibitive.
The advent of networked tools such as LibraryThing has made it a little less daunting. The current catalog lists, mainly, the most important nonfiction parts of my collection which are directly relevant to my work.
As Arnold Dolmetsch excellently explains:
...Both the German and the French versions are in my library, as well as most of the other works quoted in these pages. And indeed if I had not been the owner of these precious books I could not have accomplished my work, for it is only by studying them again and again, at leisure, for years, that the light has come to me.
Alan Kay says in this ask-me-anything: