Friday, August 29, 2008

Cataloging your home library

I have a large, extensive, enormous collection of books and movies at my house. 3 avid readers equals a lot of stuff. Large bookcases line the walls of the downstairs hall, and they are packed. Several years ago I decided I had to bring order to the seeming chaos. I went out and researched until I found a product called Readerware. This is a downloadable program that is installed on a computer. It'll go out and search for records, and book jackets, on Amazon. You can either enter ISBN or title or use a barcode reader to bring records into the catalog. It can handle records for movies, books and music. It's fabulous, but it does have a cost. Buy a copy and they'll send you a free barcode reader. It was easy to install and use and I loved it. But...

I have more computers in my house than I do humans. I also wanted to check my library catalog from other locations so when I read about LibraryThing about two years ago I jumped on the bandwagon. Here is a fully featured catalog for books. It can search for records in Amazon as well as library catalogs such as the Library of Congress. It uses ISBN's and you can use a barcode reader too. I LOVE LibraryThing. I had over 3,800 items in the catalog till the ruthless summer weeding project of 2008. I particularly love the widget that allows me to be on an Amazon page and automatically add an item to my catalog, SWEET. You should know that LibraryThing does have a one time fee for catalogs over 200 books. If you have fewer than 200 books, go ahead and use it free.

I have added videos to the catalog. I just use the book form. The director becomes the main author with other directors and writers being added as additional authors. You can view my catalog here: This is a social software site so there are lots of groups you can join to discuss books. My friend likes the suggester and unsuggester pieces of the product. Go check them out for yourself.

Okay, so my library is still fairly large and I wanted to put a genre subset into a separate catalog. First I tried using LibraryThing, but I ran up against the 200 book limit. I didn't want to pay for a second catalog so I started looking around. I found Shelfari and Gurulib and stopped looking.

Neither of these products has the staggering array of features that LibraryThing has. But for a small catalog of books they could be useful. It was easy to add books to Shelfari. So easy, I don't remember the steps right now. You have a bookshelf view and a list view. The bookshelf view actually shows the book covers on a bookcase. It's pretty and easy to use. I like the categories: I plan to read, I've read and I'm reading. Gurulib is the other product I tried.

Gurulib is also easy to add books and movies to. It is set up to include movies, music, games and software. These are valuable additions. Books are added onto shelves that you get to set up, so things are categorized according to bookcases you create. These shelves can be descriptive like brown desk, yellow bookcase or box 132. They can also be subject focused like SciFi, Fantasy, Western or Romance. I really liked this feature. I also liked the additional categories: "Wishlist" for books you haven't purchased. But best of all is the easily spotted "Borrowed Items" category. Any book record can be viewed and set to borrowed. It's very cool!

I ended up with portions of my library on both Shelfari and Gurulib. I'm still struggling with which one will be my final choice for my subset of books. In the meantime, I suggest you check things out for yourself. There are a LOT of other choices out on the web too. Here's an incomplete list:

AllConsuming, Anobii,,,, Booktribes, ChainReading,,,,,, Reader2, ShelfCentered, Socialogue, Squirl, Stuffopolis,, Zestr...
Here's another more comparative look at LibraryThing, Shelfari and Gurulib.

That is all