After doing some research I discovered that my just above 400 books are organized by my 950 into 450 collections!! Not only that, but when looking through Calibre I discovered over 300 tags, that the poor reader apparently was using to try and sort my books with. Apparently there are Smashwords authors who genuinely believe its a good idea to mar their books with over a dozen fully unique tags... though I can't for hte life of me see why.
So I spent most of today cleaning up the metadata entries, book by book, in my Calibre library. Once that was done I copied my books from the 950 to a folder in the desktop I named "950 backup" since nothing ever goes as planned with computer devices, and then I went to the settings menu and reformatted the internal memory, then connected the reader to my computer and sent my whole Calibre library to the reader again. That done, I shut down Calibre and sync'ed my Kobo desktop app, so those books went back on the reader again as well.
Time from disconnect to loading was about two minutes, which is a huge improvement from before. And now I only have seven collections!