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Railfan Technology > How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?


Date: 10/18/21 08:58
How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: walstib

I am looking to catalog my book collection, and make that catalog easily accessible online. If for no other reason than to prevent me from buying duplicates copies, which has happened more times than I care to admit.

Before I jump into this with both feet, I am interested in knowing how others are doing this, and any recommendations you might have.

I flirted briefly with Bookpedia. Then, I had a relationship with Delicious Library 3. Neither application really does what I want.

Last night, I discovered TinyCat, which utilizes LibraryThing — it's an online catalog database. TinyCat is designed for actual libraries, and garners a monthly fee, but it's free for personal libraries. And that's me.

It seems to do what I want, and it has an iPhone app. Adding books with an ISBN barcode is simple with a phone or computer, or titles can be entered manually.

Is anybody here using LibraryThing? Thoughts? Recommendations? Comments?

I created a quick sample catalog. Please feel free to take a look and offer feedback here. I included a screen shot, too.

You can find my sample catalog at this URL: librarything.com/catalog/walstib




Date: 10/18/21 08:58
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: walstib

Here's the URL to my sample catalog:  librarything.com/catalog/walstib

Sorry, but it looks like you need to copy and paste instead of click.




Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/21 09:00 by walstib.



Date: 10/19/21 06:16
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: bobwilcox

I have been using the spreadsheet app that came with my computer.  It works fine for a book collection in the low four figures.

Bob Wilcox
Charlottesville, VA
My Flickr Shots



Date: 10/19/21 07:23
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: Frisco1522

I use the W.C.Fields system.  I put them in a bookcase and remember where they are.  Of course I don't have a large collection and have trimmed it down to just my favorite or preferred books.  Unfortunately I'm not posessed with an organized gene in my DNA



Date: 10/19/21 07:24
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: Jckaufman

"Librarything" is somebody's software on somebody's server.  It's possible that the software or the server could go away at any time.  Such things happen.  And you will have invested a ton of time building your database.

Question:  Will you be able to download your database from Librarything to a CSV file?  That CSV file would be your backup; and it would allow you to load your database to a spreadsheet--or another library database--if you need to.



Date: 10/19/21 16:55
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: Cumbres

I have been using Library thing for several years now. My wife and I have many books and this is a very useful tool to keep track of them. I have nothing bad to say about them.  They have been around for awhile and appear to be a stable company with many dedicated volunteers. I also have a second library for our church on it. We pay for that privilige but it is worth it. I do think you can export a CSV file but have never done so.  However, it is a great idea to do a periodic export so that your data is backed up on your systems.


 



Date: 10/20/21 10:43
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: walstib

Thanks for the responses, guys.

W.C. Fields must have had a better memory than I. When I put a book on a shelf, sometimes I end up buying a duplicate copy because I forgot I already have it. Maybe I should have a duplicates sale, because I have several now.

Using a spreadsheet sounds like way more data entry than I'm interested in. I want something relatively quick and easy to add titles, and something I can access at home, or on the run. I'm not really interested in starting a new hobby as a data-entry clerk, or amateur librarian.

I understand LibraryThing is an off-site solution with the data stored elsewhere, but I'm okay with that. It's quick, and easy to download your data from LibraryThing. Users can download into several different formats, including an .xlsx Excel file. Periodic backups is a prudent maneuver in any situation.

And, I'm pleased to hear from Cumbres, who has actual experience using LibraryThing, along with good things to say.

So, after several false starts with other software, it's looking like my winter project will be cataloging everything with LibraryThing.

Somewhere along the line, I fell behind adding those library-style plastic book-jacket covers to my new acquisitions, so I'm going to catch up on that along with cataloging. I already purchased a new supply of covers from Brodart, so I'm ready to go.

Ironically, just after I started this topic the other day, I received an email from Ron's Books that they had shipped a title I had already purchased from another vendor. I thought I had pre-ordered the book from Ron's, but when I couldn't find any record of that, I ordered it from elsewhere and the second order arrived before the first one shipped. The struggle is real, haha.







 



Date: 10/20/21 11:36
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: NDHolmes

This was one of those "around to it" projects I've been thinking about doing for the last couple years, because often at train shows I'll see a pile of bargain books and I can't remember what I have and what I don't.  My answer was always going to be a spreadsheet, since that's how I organize my other collections and it's a nice, self-contained solution.  But as somebody else pointed out, that's a massive amount of error-prone data entry.

I'd never seen Tinycat and LibraryThing before.  Despite being a cloud solution, the ability to just scan or key ISBNs and instantly add things with full data makes this so much better than a lot of data entry.   I've done two bookcases worth of stuff while I've sat on meetings this morning.  Thanks for pointing me that direction!



Date: 10/20/21 15:44
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: Cumbres

See Below:

>
> W.C. Fields must have had a better memory than I.
> When I put a book on a shelf, sometimes I end up
> buying a duplicate copy because I forgot I already
> have it.

This was exactly the reason I looked for this program. I had a different piece of software on my phone but it was cumbersome to enter data into it and I could not also use it on a PC. Even thought I made backups I did have a problem and the books I entered were lost. With RR books being expensive, buying even a few duplicates can become very pricey.

> I understand LibraryThing is an off-site solution
> with the data stored elsewhere, but I'm okay with
> that. It's quick, and easy to download your data
> from LibraryThing.

Best I can tell there is probably 2-3 employees. There are many small libraries who use the product. But there appear to be lots of people who help it work. Reminds me of a crowd sourced product ala the many versions of Linux. Certainly there is a risk of it going away but it appears stable during the time I have used it.  Libraries like our church's do pay a reasonable amount to have access.  It supports those of us who are individuals or if you are a teacher with a small in class lending library. 

I have found that my older RR books are not always in the program but they are easy to add. You can search by title, ISBN, Library of Congress number. It also lets you look at different large library catalogs to find a match, even with Amazon.  But it isn't hard to enter in new books and I know I have entered many. Even got an "award" for entering lots of new books.  They do have a email they send out every few weeks. It is useful to read also.

Feel free to PM me if you wish to talk more about the product.

Mark
 



Date: 10/20/21 17:10
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: walstib

That's great, thanks for the offer Mark.

I'm still just tinkering with a test catalog, but I plan to jump all the way in later this week.

I had a few questions, which I emailed to the LibraryThing people the other day, and I got a detailed response within 24 hours. That was great.



Date: 10/24/21 14:15
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: koloradokid

Frisco1522 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I use the W.C.Fields system.  I put them in a
> bookcase and remember where they are.  Of course
> I don't have a large collection and have trimmed
> it down to just my favorite or preferred books. 
> Unfortunately I'm not posessed with an organized
> gene in my DNA

I can sure appreciate that lack of organized DNA!   I always say I am 40 years behind in my organizing!

I too have the library trimmed down to under 200 books give or take.  I just don't have the need for so many anymore.  Those of my immediate interests and a modeling favorite pretty much fill out the collection.

Robert



Date: 10/26/21 18:39
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: usmc1401

I use Libre open office to keep track of my book collection. Then convert to a pdf to keep on my cell phone.



Date: 10/30/21 14:45
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: Rathole

Why not just put them in alphabetical order and avoid the computer?   Do you consult your computer before you go look for a book?  



Date: 10/30/21 15:23
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: Jckaufman

One of the OP's goals was to have online access, for reference, before buying a book, to determine that they have not already purchased it.



Date: 10/31/21 09:40
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: walstib

Rathole Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  Do you consult your computer before you go look for a book?  

Not always. Sometimes,, you just know you don't have a particular title, or it's a new book.

But the rest of the time, judging from the pile of duplicates I've accumulated over the years, I've learned it's prudent for me to check. Now, using the LIbraryThing catalog system, I have a way of checking.

As of this weekend, I've completed cataloging — including adding cover shots when necessary — about 175 books.

I estimate I'm about half-way done. 



Date: 11/02/21 10:06
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: spsunset

I just use 3x5cards and list them as I get them. If going to train shop or bookstore or online I just consult the cards. Only have 74 railroad books though, checks quick. Title, author, pub year and cost.

Also take pics of cards for your phone have them wherever you are.


Jim



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/21 10:09 by spsunset.



Date: 11/02/21 10:32
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: exhaustED

Employ a librarian... very low stress, can be easy on the eye as well...

First world problems...!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/03/21 11:46 by exhaustED.



Date: 11/03/21 10:53
Re: How Do You Catalog Your Book Collection?
Author: NDHolmes

Rathole Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Why not just put them in alphabetical order and
> avoid the computer?   Do you consult your
> computer before you go look for a book?  

Well now I do.  I don't have access to my shelves when I'm at a train show, or digging around in a used book store.  And like the other poster said, given the pile of dupes I've acquired over the years (and I found a few more while catalogging two weeks ago), my memory just isn't good enough.

Plus I tend to organize mine by subject matter, not alphabetically.  The Milwaukee books together, the Rio Grande books together, etc.  Makes it easier when looking for a particular subject to consider everything I've got, rather than having to remember all the titles that might relate.



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