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Ask Slashdot: High-Tech Ways To Manage a Home Library? 230

Posted by timothy
from the check-it-out! dept.
DeptofDepartments writes "With Kindles and ebooks on everyone's lips (sc. hands) nowadays, this might come as a surprise to some, but besides being a techie, I have also amassed quite a collection of actual books (mostly hardcover and first editions) in my personal library. I have always been reluctant to lend them out and the collection has grown so large now that it has become difficult to keep track of all of them. This is why I am looking for a modern solution to implement some professional-yet-still-home-sized library management. Ideally, this should include some cool features like RFID tags or NFC for keeping track of the books, finding and checking them out quickly, if I decide to lend one." For more on what DeptofDepartments is looking for, read on below.
DeptofDepartments continues: "One problem seems to be the short lifetime of RFID tags (only 5-10 years). Given that many books will probably only be read or checked out once or twice in this period at best, the administrative effort seems very large. I have also been largely unsuccessful in finding tags or solutions that go beyond the cheap 5 to 20 item 'starter kits', yet still remain affordable and below the industrial scale.

Also, what would be suitable and affordable readers/writers for the tags in this context?

Finally, as many of the books are old folios or fairly precious first editions, everything must be non-destructive and should be removable without damage to the books if need be.

(Note: Scanning ISBNs with a hand-held barcode scanner is not an option, as many books are old (pre-ISBN) or special editions).

Software-wise, I would like to have a nice and modern-looking, easy-to-use software that can interface with the hardware side as described above. I do not necessarily need multi-user or networking capabilities at this point.

I hope the CSI (Combined Slashdot Intelligence) has some helpful ideas and pointers for me on this!"
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Ask Slashdot: High-Tech Ways To Manage a Home Library?

Comments Filter:
  • A what? (Score:3, Funny)

    by werdnapk (706357) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:48PM (#41995523)
    • Re:A what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:00PM (#41995659)
      It's one of these:

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/3/9/
    • Re:A what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:13PM (#41995813)

      Man, I'm still not sure how e-books caught on so hard, and why people keep singing the demise of the printed book.

      Personally, I've tried using a few friends' e-readers, and can't stand it. Too rigit, irritatingly slow page flips (although I'm sure this can easily be remedied with a better e-reader), and too delicate. And by delicate, I mean that I wouldn't be able to do NEARLY as much to an e-reader as I can with a paperback.

      Read in the bathtub without worry of losing more than about $12 and the time Amazon takes to ship? Check
      Lob it across the bathroom away from the bathtub when I'm done reading for the time? Check
      Hurl it down the hallway towards a pile of things I'm gathering for whatever outing? Check
      Read it at the beach without the slightest care about sand or moisture? Check
      Leave it in the car in the middle of winter? Sure!
      Leave it anywhere remotely close to a window in the middle of winter? No problem!
        - note: I'm not sure how good e-readers stand up to cold, but up here in Canada it can be -50 out at times, and in the old apartment I'm stuck in for the moment, near the windows it's not all that too terrible much far off from that. I don't trust leaving anything electronic near the windows of this place in winter.
      Smudge marks? None
      Batteries? None

      And I dunno... there's just something relaxing about just handling a nice paperback novel.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        "Read in the bathtub without worry of losing more than about $12 and the time Amazon takes to ship? Check"

        Only if you buy cheap paperbacks. I buy leather bound signed 1st editions. A couple of my books are worth more than a 64gig new ipad.

        • Re:A what? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:39PM (#41996145) Homepage Journal

          "Read in the bathtub without worry of losing more than about $12 and the time Amazon takes to ship? Check"

          Only if you buy cheap paperbacks. I buy leather bound signed 1st editions. A couple of my books are worth more than a 64gig new ipad.

          I buy books to read.

          Cheap paperbacks work just fine for that purpose.

      • Re:A what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by camperdave (969942) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:13PM (#41996501) Journal
        You can put the ebook reader into a ziploc bag if you really want to read in the tub.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Read in the bathtub without worry of losing more than about $12 and the time Amazon takes to ship? Check
        Read it at the beach without the slightest care about sand or moisture? Check
        Leave it in the car in the middle of winter? Sure!
        Leave it anywhere remotely close to a window in the middle of winter?

        Pretty much a simple ziplock case (iLok has cheap ones on ebay) takes care of the sand/moisture issues. My kids read their kindles in the bath all the time. Haven't noticed any ill effect from the cold either.
        As for lobbing down the hall, they have cases which have managed to protect them well. The fact that we can check out ebooks anytime from our local library has let them read more books than if we'd had to fit in a trip (though of course we do that too). One kid likes the kindle better, one likes real b

      • Re:A what? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:55PM (#41996817) Homepage Journal

        Catalog all your books? nope.
        Buy a book on the fly from almost anywhere? nope.
        Easily share a book and automatically get it back? nope
        Easily look up a new word? nope
        Fact check from anywhere? nope.
        Check a book out for the library without going to the library? nope.
        All the books weight the same? nope.
        Immediately share a clever passage or turn of phrase? nope
        Adjust the font size? nope

        Book get smudge marks. No only do they get smudge marks, they are difficult to impossible to remove.

        Yeah, boo hoo if you don't take precautions you might drop it into the bath tub. Or you could put it in plastic, or into a case, or, you know, stop reading while soaking in your own filth and take a shower. Then sit by the fire with all your books and pick and choose.

        Oh, I drop my Kindle into the tub. Damn that was stupid of me. I guess I;ll just have to read from my computer, or phone until I get 79 dollars.

        Once you drop you paperback into the water, you'r done reading.

        I get it. I thought the same thing, then I get my wife a kindle. Cause there are a shit ton of free romances.
        The I used it and , man unless it's a nice hard cover or signed, I don't even want a hard print book.

        "And I dunno... there's just something relaxing about just handling a nice paperback novel."
        Yes, it's you emotional attachment to the idea of how someone should read a book.
        There are people who enjoy reading, and there are people who read to own books.

      • Leave it in the car

        My car got broken into over the weekend, everything removable down to my broken $10 sunglasses got stolen, but the thieves just piled my books on passenger seat. Glad I didn't bring my kindle that day.

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        And by delicate, I mean that I wouldn't be able to do NEARLY as much to an e-reader as I can with a paperback.

        Read in the bathtub without worry of losing more than about $12 and the time Amazon takes to ship? Check
        Read it at the beach without the slightest care about sand or moisture? Check

        My Kindle is better at these tasks than a book - I just put it in a zip-lock baggy and I'm good to go. I've dropped it in the hot tub more than once without a problem. Drop your book in the tub and you're probably not going to be reading it until it dries out. The beaches here tend to be breezy, so I prefer reading the zip-lock enclosed kindle over a paper book or magazine since the pages don't flutter with the wind.

        Lob it across the bathroom away from the bathtub when I'm done reading for the time? Check
        Hurl it down the hallway towards a pile of things I'm gathering for whatever outing? Check

        I agree that a kindle probably wouldn't stand up to this behavior, but when I'd done reading

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          The biggest advantage of an eReader to me is that I generally read more than 1 book at a time. I might be reading a science fiction anthology, a fictional novel, and a non-fiction book, and I switch between them. With an eReader, I only need to carry a single small device with me instead of 3 bulky books.

          I can see this is a good argument if you travel a lot, and certainly I take an eReader on holiday, but personally I do 99% of my reading at home in my library, not in coffee shops, art galleries, student bars or whatever. It's an age thing.

          Horses for courses, as always.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            The biggest advantage of an eReader to me is that I generally read more than 1 book at a time. I might be reading a science fiction anthology, a fictional novel, and a non-fiction book, and I switch between them. With an eReader, I only need to carry a single small device with me instead of 3 bulky books.

            I can see this is a good argument if you travel a lot, and certainly I take an eReader on holiday, but personally I do 99% of my reading at home in my library, not in coffee shops, art galleries, student bars or whatever. It's an age thing.

            Horses for courses, as always.

            I don't think it's an age thing, my 70 year old dad loves reading on a Kindle because he can crank the font up to a size he can read. He doesn't, however, enjoy the online shopping, so I buy books for him.

            I do most of my reading during my commute, so the Kindle is ideal for that. If I did all of my reading at home, I'd probably read plain paper books since they tend to be a fraction of the cost of eBooks when you buy them used. But if not for that cost differential I'd probably stick with the Kindle, I fin

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        I use my iPhone in the bathtub all the time (check email, play Words with Friends, etc).

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        Don't forget the bookshop doesn't/can't delete the book from you bookshelf.

        Nor do they profile you based on what you read.

    • The poster is referring to a Holmes-Ginsbook device [cofc.edu].

  • ... to get a Cray super computer to track it high tech style?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:51PM (#41995545)

    Organize your books using Dewey, make or buy slip covers, and while you are physically labelling them enter information in a card catalogue database.

    If you're going to keep books as a labour of love you can make time to catalogue them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed. When I was in college, Princeton University's library (the largest open stack library in the world, at least at that time) was managed via Dewey, card catalogs, and manual check out. Certainly a home library can be handled using the same technology.

    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:31PM (#41996041) Journal

      And you don't need to damage old books in order to use modern tracking methods. Print a paper bookmark with a bar code and the title/author in text and slip it in the book. If it falls out, put it back in.

      If you don't mind sticking something to an inside cover permanently, like many people do with "Ex Libris" bookplates, print your own - something sufficiently artistic with a discrete little bar code to read. Doesn't have to be Dewey or ISBN or a title hash, just has to be unique within your database.

      And if you don't want to mix your tech world with your library (I keep a rather large one, and I'm that way) just use something simple like a late model MS Access (which works just fine if you're not stupid with it). Bar code readers are cheap, and are just keyboard intercept nowadays, so there's really no system integration involved. It's what we've done with ours, a modest F&SF/tech/philosophy/medieval library of a few thousand books.

      • by nbauman (624611)

        Has anyone set up a bibliography template for MS Access?

        I was looking for one, but it's impossible to search for "bibliography" on Google.

    • Dewey isn't exactly easy. Try it sometime, pick some random subjects (e.g. English-French dictionary for French speakers learning English) and try and catalog it. It'll have about one correct number, but that number will be different to a French-English dictionary for English speakers learning English. By different I mean, unless you know about Dewey you might think that the two are quite unrelated apart from the general category (languages).

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      Dewey??! Good heavens, no. Use the Library of Congress system ... it's much finer-grained.

      [I learned the LoC system in college... after that, going back to a Dewey-cataloged library was like being blind. Yeah, Dewey is a lot easier, but it lacks fine distinctions. LoC's system can locate a single book, not just a subcategory.]

  • Just guessing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:55PM (#41995583)

    I have no experience in this area, so this is purely how I would approach the problem from a blank slate.

    I would go with good ol` fashion "bunch o` lines" bar codes. Easy to make yourself, should be easy to attach to a book (or not, maybe just have it loose between the cover and first page), lots of cheap readers and most just emulate a keyboard so easy to interface with.

    From there I'd probably throw together a little home brew. What you are asking for does not really sound complicated, the software side sounds like a weekend project for just the basic requirements. Even if you just do it as a basic web app. Be sure to add a title based search for if the barcode gets lost, so the bar code just becomes a convinience and not a requirement to use,

    • I would go with good ol` fashion "bunch o` lines" bar codes. Easy to make yourself, should be easy to attach to a book (or not, maybe just have it loose between the cover and first page), lots of cheap readers and most just emulate a keyboard so easy to interface with. From there I'd probably throw together a little home brew. What you are asking for does not really sound complicated, the software side sounds like a weekend project for just the basic requirements. Even if you just do it as a basic web app.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Hey now. I once wrote a 1200 line c program just to display "hello, worlf!"

        yes, "worlf".

        If someone could look at that code and figure out what it does in 5 minutes, I would consider them a guru.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Easy to make yourself, should be easy to attach to a book (or not, maybe just have it loose between the cover and first page

      First editions, remember. Collectible editions.

      Deface or damage a book and its resale value will plummet to the garage sale price.

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        Kinda the point of:

        (or not, maybe just have it loose between the cover and first page)

        If we are talking ancient relics that will turn to dust if the pages are so much as parted (or some kind of slip cover installed), then I dunno.. maybe specific shelf space with the barcode and label under it or something..

    • by plover (150551)

      What's the point of a tag to a library? One use is to enable quick and efficient checkout. Either a barcode or an RFID chip solves that, but is speed of checkout an actual problem for a home librarian? Another point is to prevent theft, which an RFID tag that can be read from a distance helps solve by placing readers at the exits. Again, not a realistic problem for a home library. So checkout activities really shouldn't factor into consideration for the technology.

      Probably the most realistic applicatio

  • Keep it simple. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:56PM (#41995597)

    Put them in alphabetical order. Use a ledger to record lending.

    You're welcome.

    • Re:Keep it simple. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fallingcow (213461) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:13PM (#41995807) Homepage

      Grouped by author, ordered chronologically by date of author's first major work.

      Only way to go.

      A friend of mine independently came to use a similar system, but he does it by author's birth (a bit easier) and does a bit of grouping by category (philosophy, literature, etc.)

      Either system works great. Stats to fall apart near WWII, as in most people's libraries the dates get denser the nearer you approach now.

      It's awesome having an ordering system that acts as a teaching tool. Better for idle browsing than simple alphabetical ordering, too, since works of similar style will tend to be near one another.

      • Grouped by author, ordered chronologically by date of author's first major work.

        Only way to go.

        It's the "only way to go" if you tend to have only books by single authors, and most of those authors have been dead for centuries.

        What about?

        1. collections by more than one author (books of poems, collections of short stories, etc.)
          collections of essays (very common among academics)
          reference books (even if they have a primary author, it's usually not very relevant)
          sets of books written by different authors
          etc., etc., etc.

        If I followed this system, probably 10% of my library couldn't even be catalogued

        • The "only way to go" thing was hyperbole, yeah.

          As I wrote, it falls apart somewhat as you move in to more recent decades, which is when multi-author series, multi-author collections of short work, and most multi-author non-fiction volumes (that anyone's likely to have) will occur.

          If that's the bulk of your library, the sure, a chronological ordering will suck.

          For ~1940 and earlier, when even most non-fiction that's still read by anyone will be single-author, it's great. Classic works of science, mathematic

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:25PM (#41995965) Homepage

      Alphabetical author, then alphabetical title. Lending? no way in hell any of my precious is leaving my library...

      Or of you want to make a large collection book owner cry.... By color then size.

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        By color then size.

        Sure. Why not?
        Group the books by Color then Size or vice versa.
        Then catalog all the books in a database and when you look up a book it shows a pic of it.
        Tall, Thick Brown. Go there and get it.
        I actually think it is fucking genius. Looks cool and it can actually work.

  • Kodak moment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:56PM (#41995601)

    I would reccomend taking a polaroid of the person you are loaning the book to and then leaving the picture on the shelf in the place reserved for the book. Other viable database options include a chalkboard log of the Dewey Decimel numbers or scanning each book to a tape drive for safe keeping.

    • Wow, a polaroid? Really? Just let the out dated technology die.
      • woosh

  • Try Delicious Library. http://www.delicious-monster.com/ [delicious-monster.com]
    • by Aaden42 (198257)

      It's Mac only, but it really is VERY good. I've been searching for something for non-Mac (three-platform opensource ideal, Windows-only acceptable), and nothing comes close in terms of having a grandma-intuitive interface, reliable barcode scanning, and good metadata lookup. Delicious Library is the gold standard for home library management as far as I'm concerned.

    • I second this opinion. Works so so so well, and is quite full featured. I also use it to inventory my Lego collection (wrote a plugin to query the Peeron database instead of Amazon).
  • QR Codes and ISBNS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DownWithTheMan (797237) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:58PM (#41995631)
    Simplest solution - use the ISBNs - plenty of bar code scanning apps exist to scan these in... For books without the ISBNs - create your own QR codes to catalog/scan them all...
  • Books (Score:5, Informative)

    by Em Adespoton (792954) <slashdotonly.1.adespoton@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:58PM (#41995633) Homepage Journal

    legacy.audacious-software.com/products/books/

    I've used this for years. Hold the book up to the camera to ID it. Easiest way to do this is via ISBN -- you can always create your own barcodes for the books that don't have them, and affix these somehow (I affix inside with acid-free glue, this may be sacrilegious to some). Otherwise, you can use an image recognition module. Contains complete check in/out functionality and is open source.

    I've been thinking that there should be some way to add a plugin for Calibre that can do all of this too, but Books already does everything I want.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      sigh.
      Just take a picture of the book cover, note it's title and copyright date, give it an id in the database.
      The just do an image match.
      No need to doctor the books.

  • by alphax45 (675119)
    Do what I do: Buy some Ikea bookshelves and put them in alphabetical order by author.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      then when you lend one. just put a 3x5 card with the person name on it sticking out in the place where the book would go.

      I mean:
      Use 1000 dollars worth of technology and give yourself another maintenance chore~

  • by reimero (194707) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:01PM (#41995665)

    If you're dealing with rare or valuable books, I'd forego RFID. The adhesive on security tape and RFID tags is somewhat acidic and ultimately destructive. You have to balance the desire for security with the desire not to harm the books. But any adhesive is somewhat destructive, by its very nature.

    RFID equipment is also less than cheap. I think in small numbers, you're looking at about $0.60 per tag, and the equipment itself is a few hundred dollars for encoding and sensitizing/desensitizing.

    I work in a library, and these are discussions we have regarding rare and collectible books.

    • by reimero (194707)

      I should probably follow up with additional information. Modern library systems are very complex, very sophisticated and very expensive. Frankly, I would recommend following a logical sorting pattern and relying on a good old-fashioned barcode solution (if you're gonna put stickers on your books anyway.) But modern libraries face numerous similar challenges, and we have to deal with a degree of "good enough." We generally follow call number order and shelf lists, and have people trained to maintain the

    • by guruevi (827432)

      Most rare and collectible books are also never lent out except between libraries and museums. The destructive non-librarian humans tend to damage such books as they don't know how to properly take care of it.

      I would say for those rare books, use a cover (if it isn't there already) and put stuff ON that cover. RFID's are just a fancy bar-code, useful only if you don't have or don't want an optical readout.

  • BTDT (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:01PM (#41995667)

    I have about 6000 books. Some of them are quite old (passing the century mark). Many of them (about 1400 that I know of) lack bar codes or ISBNs.

    I've been down this road before.

    After a few fancy tries, I got lazy and loaded an android app called Book Catalog on an old phone. It does everything I need, though I wish it had a way of syncing databases across multiple devices. I manually enter those I can't scan. I don't bother with bar codes. I identify by name, author, date, and location (shelf, room). I keep the books in order on the shelves. I pay attention when re-shelving them. A little bit of self discipline goes a LONG way.

    In all honesty I haven't got everything catalogged yet, but I'm in the...checking...2788 range. I enter anything new I pick up (both so I don't get further behind and to avoid duplication) and scan/enter a few books at a time whenever I'm in an OCD mood.

  • Barcodes are cheap and easy to print out on Avery labels. Barcode readers are cheap and easy to use. Hell, there was a time when a company *gave away* barcode readers. You may remember Cuecat. I still have mine.

    And now that you're turning up your nose at barcodes, consider that large libraries have been using barcodes for decades now. They are proven technology.

    As for organization, you can look to the Library of Congress for that. The Library of Congress indexing system is a proven system for small a

  • Physically arrange them on an aesthetic (binding style, size) basis. If you truly know your books, you can find them Gestalt-wise.

    Index them as e-books (download from PG or PB). Helps with content-wise referencing, e-lending.
  • Shelves - Android (Score:4, Informative)

    by UranusHertz (29551) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:08PM (#41995739)

    I use Shelves for Android to keep track of all my Books, DVD, Games, what not.

    It has functions for loaning out materials and uses the barcode scanner software you install on your phone or tablet device.

    Shelves at Google Play [google.com]

  • Gift books (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raydobbs (99133) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:09PM (#41995759) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps Bill Adama had it right - give books to people, never lend them. Then you can't get upset if they never make it back to you.

  • Librarything.com (Score:3, Informative)

    by ScottyKUtah (716120) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:19PM (#41995889)
    I have over 750 books in my library, and I use Librarything.com. $10 per year, or $25 for life.

    Best way to add books is to type in the ISBN, then the website searches online databases, to include Amazon.

    You can also add tags to your books, like fiction, non-fiction, read, not read, etc.

    Every book I read this year gets a "2012" tag, so I'll always know how many books I read in a given year.

    • Another vote for librarything.com

      I find the web accessibility part the best. That way when I'm in a bookstore I can check and see if:
      1) I already have the book in my library
      2) What books I need to complete a series by a particular author

  • by Jaktar (975138)

    Just stick with the Dewey decimal system. It's worked since 1876.

  • 1) Donate all items to library
    2) Get a library card

    They will keep track of everything for you, and you can deduct the value of the items on your taxes

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.librarything.com/

  • Yeah, geeks tend to measure their intelligence by how many books they own.

    "if I decide to lend one"

    I take that to mean you aren't already loaning them. I suspect you'll find you won't be loaning many, because who's going to look at your collection when they could look at the library, or since you'll have things potentially interesting to geeks, they'll be looking to buy their own so they can increase their apparent intelligence. Mostly, though, you're the only one who cares about your collection of books. D

  • Try Collectorz.com? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xveers (1003463) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:40PM (#41996149)

    The software I use is done by a Dutch company called Collectorz (Yes, it sounds VERY reputable). It's one of the few bits of software I've genuinely felt worth purchasing for the value. It does pretty much everything you are looking at, cleanly and effectively. It allows you to export databases in a variety of formats, and has a matching app for android and apple products.

    It does the classic things like search Amazon for books, either by ISBN or author/title, but it can also hit the Library of Congress as well as several other major national libaries (I know it does the UK as well as Canada). Multiple hits on a single ISBN/title let you select which you import in, and there's a wide selection of data tags you can use, as well as several user defined fields

    One thing you may find useful is that the book assigns, in addition to everything else, a unique ID number to each book, which can be used in lieu of a barcode or more cumbersome ID method.

  • by cycler (31440)

    Koha http://www.koha.org/ [koha.org] is an open-source library catalog.
    It has circulation and database. Use barcodes or RFIDs on the books (the tip of extra cover is good).

    Many real libraries use Koha for their library database and circulation.

    YMMV

    /C

  • by houghi (78078) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:01PM (#41996365)

    How many do you think you are going to lend out? To how many people? Be realistic. Making a card per person and write in the book they lend and when might be easier.

    On a card you just write the name of the person. Then when lending out a book, write down the name of the book, the author and the date. Then when they bring it back, fill that out.

    I would go for a per-person approach and not a per book approach as libraries do it, because you will most likely have less people then books.

    Having it on paper and not electronically will make it easier to use for the next 50 to 100 years. No real reason to update. Instead of cards, a paper notebook would do the trick as well.

    You can even use it for other members in the family to keep record who read what and when. Nice to look at in many years time.

    I would not go with anything electronic. Just make sure that you know what kind of notebook you want, need and how many columns you need. An extra is that other people will be able to use it when you are no longer alive. That way they can get the books back (if they want to) without any knowledge of the way databases work at that time.

  • Goodreads (Score:4, Informative)

    by slapout (93640) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:05PM (#41996433)

    "(Note: Scanning ISBNs with a hand-held barcode scanner is not an option, as many books are old (pre-ISBN) or special editions)."

    I recently scanned all my books (~250) into a Goodreads account using an Android app. Only a couple of dozen or so didn't have ISBNs. And for those I just typed in the name and it was able to find the book. I believe there is also an option for adding a book if Goodreads can't find it.

  • by anarcat (306985) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:15PM (#41996523) Homepage

    I did the inventory of my 500+ book collection here and while it took a few days, the upkeep is minimal, and gcstar [gcstar.org] allows me to also keep track of people I lend the book to. The interface is awful, but it does connect to Amazon and so on to get book details, including cover pictures, if you have an ISBN. If you don't, then it's likely that Amazon doesn't carry it and you'll have to enter the details by hand anyways, but that's still fairly easy.

    I do not label the books with stickers, RFID or bar codes of any kind. I simply rely on the book name for reference, and since I have very few duplicate books, this usually works. Duplicates can usually be told apart by printing dates or something similar. The library itself is physically arranged by loosely defined categories - I did *not* bother with Dewey.

    I have written a complete article [koumbit.org] about this that may be useful to you. You may also want to contribute to that wiki page [koumbit.net] which compares different software offering.

  • I thought (Score:4, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:24PM (#41996597) Homepage Journal

    we were still using cue cats!

    • I was planning on inventorying my fridge this way, but it didn't work with my PS2 to USB adaptor :(
    • by Pope (17780)

      I actually bought a CueCat to scan my DVDs and CDs into Delicious Library, and found it faster to just type the damn bar code numbers in by hand.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:41PM (#41996733) Homepage Journal

    A tested technology.

  • iPhone and MyStuff2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by plover (150551) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:58PM (#41996843) Homepage Journal

    Got an iPhone? There's a personal inventory app called MyStuff2 ($5.00) that I use for a whole lot of things, and it already comes with "Books" as a category. When you're adding items, it can use the camera for a barcode scanner and look up your titles on Amazon; it then automatically populates fields like title, author, publisher, genre, page count, edition, ISBN, publication date, and cover photo. For books that don't have a barcode, you can manually type the ISBN. Or you can enter all the data manually.

    Once an item is in the database, there are action codes you can select. Item Lent is built in by default, and records the current date. It's up to you to type in the name and info of the borrower. When you view a loaned item, there's a convenient "return item" button to tap.

    You can browse the list of all items in an action state, such as "lent" or "returned".

    The program is very flexible. You can modify the database schema, adding other data you might find useful, like price, vendor, condition, notes, or what have you. You can modify the actions as well. For example, I modified the "lent to" field of the Loan Item activity to be an address book contact field instead of a typed name. So when I look at the loaned item list, I can tap on an item, tap on the contact, then tap dial to call them.

    The app supports importing and exporting data a few different ways (CSV, Excel, PDF, HTML) so you can work with it on a separate machine. It can use all kinds of tools to back up the databases, including Box, Dropbox, iCloud, or you can FTP it to your own systems. And it's always with you, which is great if you're just out and about and happen into a book store.

    I also have other categories of stuff in the database. I keep data about all of our home appliances and electronics in there, with information about warranties, repair history, replacement parts, and maintenance schedules.

    I originally bought it to keep track of our orchid collection, but it's proven very useful for all kinds of home inventory needs. Best $5.00 app I ever bought.

    http://www.maddysoft.com/iphone/mystuff/ [maddysoft.com]

  • Passive RFID tags can have a lifespan of 20+ years. Source: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/technology-article.asp?artnum=47 [technovelgy.com]
    They're also dirt cheap.
    • OR, don't most books already have an isbn barcode on them? You could duplicate the barcode with your printer to attach to the spines and use the smartphone you (probably) already have to scan them with already available free software. No need to input data for the barcodes since they're already tied to that particular book!
  • by ffflala (793437) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @07:57PM (#41997321)
    I wouldn't bother with Dewey or LOC call numbering, unless your collection approaches 10,000 or more books (about 800 shelf fee), or unless you want to be able to search your collection by subject heading. Just use alphanumeric ordering, either by title or author last name. Whichever you choose, decide ahead of time on the exceptions --whether to ignore titles that begin with articles (A, An, The), if compilations should default to editor or first listed author, etc. Have an exceptional shelving area for oversized books (anything that can't be faced on your normal shelves, see below.)

    This requirement makes things more difficult for you:

    Finally, as many of the books are old folios or fairly precious first editions, everything must be non-destructive and should be removable without damage to the books if need be.

    RFID tags, barcodes, and stickers are nifty and serve useful purposes, but they usually cannot be removed from a surface without causing damage, particularly after the adhesive has cured. So you're talking custom book jackets for every book. Given your reluctance to go with RFID, think optical, such as UPC codes or QR codes... but carefully consider their purpose. It sounds like you basically just want to keep track of lending books out. It doesn't sound like you need subject searching capabilities for your collection, and it doesn't sound like you'll be circulating thousands of titles per year. So what would take less time over the remainder of your life span: manually entering a title and the borrower's name into a calendar (w/ a reminder set to go off after a ~4 weeks) a few times a year, or creating thousands of book jackets, cataloging the data, and syncing it with QR codes... then manually entering the name of the borrower? Or will you create a circulation account, and give your friends cards, as well? (You'll still need to enter their personal info once, anyway.)

    So keep track of the physical collection this way: face your books. This means align them so that the spines rest at the edge of the shelf (rather than pushing them as far back as they can go.) While it won't fool a careful book thief, most people don't even notice when a shelf is faced. When shelved this way, it's easy to see what books have been dislodged. Keep track of your circulation by just entering borrower name/title into a google calendar as a future appointment, and have it set to email/text you a reminder to get it back.

    • This is probably the best comment. Only other thing I would say is that If you really do want a catalog for your books and a checkout system for a sense of organization and security, then adding custom jackets or loops for the books that don't have ISBN/barcodes is a workable solution. It's certainly no worse than RFID tags since those would have to be glued on just the same as a barcode. The jacket, if made out of acid free paper, would also protect the book. Bar or QR codes would certainly be the easiest,
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:01PM (#41997345) Homepage Journal

    Even if you donate to the library, they are not obligated to add them to the collection. If a number of your books are pre-ISBN that pretty well guarantees they will not. They need contemporary books people want to read. Unless they are a university or archival library, they are not interested in keeping old stuff. They'll just booksale the stuff they don't want.

    librarything.com is a pretty easy way to get your books cataloged. I use it for my collection of over 2,000 books. Calaloging is not just a matter of finding a Dewy number and sticking it on there. MARC (Machine Readable Catalog) is a very intensive and complex method of tagging everything from size to subjects. The neat thing about librarything is that once you get your books in there, with as minimal effort as possible, you can downlad a comma delimited file of the full record to import into any system you want. Cataloging is intensive and time consuming so you want someone else to do the bulk of the work. Don't underestimate the amount of work involved here.

    If you REALLY want a serious library automation system there are a couple of open source systems out there: Koha.org is one and Evergreen (open-ils.org) is another. These are real and complex systems with OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog), check-in/out, etc. I wouldn't do this unless you were really hard core.

    Google home library software and you will find a ton of stuff.

    P.S. I worked in the library automation field for about 30 years as one of the first "systems librarians."

  • Simple (Score:5, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @08:47PM (#41997627) Homepage Journal

    Marry a librarian, and just leave your books around. A system will develop.

  • I organize mine much like a bookstore:

    Fiction goes alphabetical by author. Within a particular author, arranged by title or series and number in series. Anthologies by name of editor; multi-author series are a separate section, arranged by series title and number in series. Fiction all together is about two bookcases, thanks to a large culling that happened when I had to move after a divorce, so I don't feel a need to separate by genre.

    Non-fiction is organized more loosely, but books on the same subj

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