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

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?

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  • Books (Score:5, Informative)

    by Em Adespoton ( 792954 ) <> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:58PM (#41995633) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Delicious Library (Score:5, Informative)

    by schlesinm ( 934723 ) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:03PM (#41995677) Homepage
    This is my suggestion as well. It's actually Delicious Library 2 by now. You can search by name, ISBN number, scanning the barcode, etc. You can also store books, CDs, DVDs, games, physical devices, etc.
  • 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 []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:11PM (#41995773)

    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.

  • (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 $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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:22PM (#41995937)

  • 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.

  • Try (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.

  • 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.

  • 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:A what? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 15, 2012 @06:21PM (#41996571)

    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 books better, but the both read a ton on each.

  • 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. []

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