Library software

Library software

Post by Charlie Anderso » Fri, 10 Jul 1998 04:00:00



I'm about to begin the laborious task of cataloguing my library and I
would be very grateful for any suggestions on what might be a good piece
of software to do that.

I've got a PowerPC Mac with a copy of Filemaker Pro, but don't let that
restrict anyone in their recommendations.

Thanks in advance

Charlie Anderson, Vancouver

 
 
 

Library software

Post by mul.. » Fri, 10 Jul 1998 04:00:00



Quote:

> I'm about to begin the laborious task of cataloguing my library and I
> would be very grateful for any suggestions on what might be a good piece
> of software to do that.

> I've got a PowerPC Mac with a copy of Filemaker Pro, but don't let that
> restrict anyone in their recommendations.

Charlie:  (and others interested)

If you had a PC-- even an old XT with a monochrome display, the kind you
can't give away these days-- I'd suggest using PC Card Catalog Professional
(PCCCPRO), available as shareware  from
http://www.fastlane.net/~mceowen/diakon.html

This costs $39 to register the shareware, and upgraded versions with various
features will cost you $49-$119. I used it for several years to catalog a
small private school library.  The minimal system requirements mean you can
afford to dedicate an old computer to running your catalog and  doing nothing
else.

This is probably more convenient than having to  turn on your main computer
and open up your catalog every time you want to look at a book. If you
dedicate an old desktop machine, or even a portable computer with AC adapter,
you can leave it turned on all the time.  If you put it on a pocket computer
like an HP 200LX, you can keep that with you when you're out buying books, or
move it around the house, if you've got books all over the house.

(Depending on your decorating tastes-- old XTs are so unwanted that that you
could keep one in every room with books in it, keep them all turned on all the
time, and run a copy of the program on each.  Just remember--every time you
cataloged more titles, you'd have to do a backup, then restore files on all
those  machines, unless you have a computer network  in  your house.  And a
single license for PCCCPRO and most other programs is supposed to be for one
machine only)

I'll be happy to explain in much more detail why PCCCPRO is easy to use and
work with-- ask on here or send mail.

      **BUT....**

I don't necessarily advise you to catalog your library at all.  If you do so,
the program you use is a *lot* less important than several other factors.

  Why are you doing this? -- unless  all your books are neatly shelved now,
*and* you are still having trouble finding them or remembering if you need to
buy a particular book, don't bother.  Are you wiling to take the time?  Are
you willing to spend  money? ($49 for a subject heading list, -- maybe
something for a new database program and/or a  library classification
schedule)

**********************************
(Appeal to Authority)

I'm a profesional librarian who spent 18 years as  a professionsl cataloger
I know whereof I speak.

(end Appeal to Authority)
***********************************

I assume the reason you want a catalog is because you have quite a few books,
and you're having trouble finding all of them, and remembering what you're
missing.  Or maybe there are two or more people in the house, and you want to
combine all their collections so that everyone knows what all is available.
If what you mostly have is fiction, then put it in alphabetical order on the
shelves, and perhaps make a want list for titles you don't have.  You could
have a few subcategories, each in alphabetical order (general fiction,
mysteries, SF, etc.).  Unless you're prepared to carry your catalog around
with you, all that cataloging fiction will do for a single household's
fiction collection is reduce the time you have available for reading ;)

********************************* What a lot of people who think they want to
catalog  their libraries REALLY NEED is enough bookshelves to shelve things
properly.  That means  several inches of expansion space at the end of each
shelf for the new books you're buying.  Without proper shelving, even the
best catalog won't help you find anything. **********************************

Seriously, even if you're a lot better typist than I am (which is certainly
possible!) this is going to take a *lot* of time.  Just to  type in the
author and title for fiction  isn't too much trouble-- but how useful is
that??  If you're doing this because you're a collector, you need to identify
the edition you have, with place, publisher, and date-- and probably note
condition, absence of dustjacket, etc.  And even for fiction, you might want
added subject entries for the main characters, or an added entry for a series
of which a particular book is a part. Doing all that,  including taking the
books off the shelf to do it, and then putting them back in the proper order,
proofreading your records for typos, etc. is probably going to take at least
3 minutes a book.  At that rate, 1000 books only take 50 hours, you say?
Yes, but that's fiction.  And as I explain below, you may want to put some
kind of call number even on your fiction.

Non-fiction will take a *lot* longer-- if you do it right.

If you're cataloging a non-fiction collection containing books on many
different subjects, you *MUST* assign subject headings, preferably from a
preexisting list.  Otherwise, you're wasting your time.  If you depend on
keyword searching on title keywords,  once you have a couple of thousand
books cataloged you will never find everything you have on a particular
subject-- except by chance. If you insert random keywords that seem to
describe the subject to you, the problem is that next week-- or next year--
you might think of quite a different keyword. This problem gets much worse if
several people use the same collection.

Only with a  subject heading list containing controlled subject vocabulary
will you be able to look up in a cross-referenced list and figure out the
real subject heading for something in your catalog.  Only with a subject
heading list will somebody else-- like your present or future spouse, child,
etc.-- be able to find the books you've cataloged.  Sure, have keyword
indexing, too.  But don't depend on it to find subject material.

Of course, with non-fiction you're also going to want some sort of
classification system-- at least into broad subject groupings, each of which
could be arranged alphabetically.  Or you could go to a full Dewey Decimal
classification, though unless you have a lot of non-fiction on a lot of
really different subjects that may be overkill.  But in any case, once you
even divide up your fiction from your non-fiction, unless you put call
numbers  or section designators of some sort -- maybe just SF or CARS or NEW
AGE (for example) onto each catalog record, you will have steadily increasing
trouble finding books on the shelf. If you ever actually *read* your books
you will have trouble reshelving them properly unless (a) you look up each
book in the catalog before you reshelve it or (b) you keep some sort of call
number label with the book at all times.  If you assume you don't need to do
(a), you'll find that over time your SF migrates in with your mysteries, etc.
 You'll think a book is lost, buy another copy, and then find the first one
misshelved.

If you actually classify your books by Dewey or some other system, you *must*
use labels.  Otherwise, even if you look them up in the catalog before you
reshelve them, you'll have a lot of trouble figuring out exactly where on the
shelves to put them. You could just write the call numbers into the books in
pencil.  A less destructive way of achieving the same end would be to put a
bookmark on acid-free paper into each item, and put the call number or
section identifier onto each bookmark.  If there's any chance that the
bookmark will ever be taken out of the book (and believe me--there probably
is!),  you should put at least an accession number, and maybe an author and
title, onto the bookmark too, and pencil an accession number into the book in
an unobtrusive place (top left of page 17, for example)  The accession number
will allow you to find the catalog record, which in turn will allow you to
figure out where the book goes on the shelf, and maybe make a new bookmark
for the one that somehow got lost. ;)

Once you have a system like this set up for all your books, it's possible to
use the bookmarks as a circulation system-- keep the ones for books that are
off the shelves in a box or something, (a  different box for each person in
the house if this library is being shared by two  or more people) with notes
attached to any bookmarks for books you've loaned to people outside the
house.

Cataloging a book with subject headings, added entries for second authors
illustrators, etc., and a classification system involving writing something
down to put in the book will take you *at least* 10 minutes a book-- or 200
hours for 1200 volumes on non-fiction. Depending on how much spare time you
have, that probably takes up all of it for several months.  Some of that time
will be spent inputting, but more of it will be spent figuring out exactly
which subject heading or headings  best fit the item.  Once you've started
doing this, you will have to keep doing it in order for your catalog to be
useful.  If you have enough books that cataloging makes sense, you  probably
buy several hundred books every year.  If so, you'll need to spend an hour or
so every week or two cataloging them

-- for the rest of your life.

If you put it off,  in a couple of months you'll find yourself faced with an
entire day's work  doing nothing but cataloging.

************************************* Personally, *I'm* not going to catalog
the 10,000 or so books in my house until after I retire.
**************************************

To catalog non-fiction right, you should invest in a subject heading list.
For small general libraries, the best list is probably Sears List of Subject
Headings, 15th ed., 1994, ISBN 0-8242-0858-7  at $49.  Yes, in principle you
*could* make up your own list for scratch-- but the time it would take would
be enormous.  As you use the list, mark in it which headings you have used,
and any other added headings and changes  you make.
...

read more »

 
 
 

Library software

Post by James D. Keelin » Fri, 10 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:

> I'm about to begin the laborious task of cataloguing my library and I
> would be very grateful for any suggestions on what might be a good piece
> of software to do that.

> I've got a PowerPC Mac with a copy of Filemaker Pro, but don't let that
> restrict anyone in their recommendations.

> Thanks in advance

> Charlie Anderson, Vancouver

There are some shareware applications for Filemaker and some standalone
applications which may work for you.  Try:

        http://www.shareware.com

and use the key words "book" and "collection" and you should find about
a half dozen examples of ones where you can try before you buy.

James
--
=======================================================================
James D. Keeline  |  Prince and the Pauper Collectible Children's Books

                  |  (619)283-4380 * (800)454-3726 *  fax (619)283-4666
                  |   The Largest Source of Books from YOUR Childhood
                  |  50,000 out-of-print & collectible children's books
=======================================================================

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Cliff Spice » Fri, 10 Jul 1998 04:00:00


File maker pro is supposed to be a great program. If you thought about what
you would like in your database, then get a book on using the database
program, I think you could do something very nice. I just did something
similar using Access 97 for windows and found the learning curve was
minimal.

The nice part of doing it yourself is that you will not be restricted by
someone's  vision of what a collector needs.

Best of Luck,

Cliff Spicer
Toronto

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Ron Be » Fri, 10 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:

>I don't necessarily advise you to catalog your library at all.  If you do so,
>the program you use is a *lot* less important than several other factors.

>  Why are you doing this? -- unless  all your books are neatly shelved now,
>*and* you are still having trouble finding them or remembering if you need to
>buy a particular book, don't bother.

Interesting post, but I'm interested in cataloging my books
(by which I mean "listing", not necessarily "classifying")
for insurance purposes-- not so much to put a value on them,
but to give me an idea of what I've lost if the place ever
burns down.

It would take me quite a while to remember all the authors and
titles. The problem is not "what books do I own on a particular
subject", but rather "please write down the title of every book
you own, from memory".

I'm afraid many of my books may fall into the category of
"rare but not valuable", which means I'd have a hell of a time
replacing them regardless of their market value. But in some
cases used copies would be available for a price, and I'm not
sure how to handle that with my insurance company. Surely the
first step would be to have a list of titles and ISBN numbers,
though.

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Charlie Anderso » Sat, 11 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:



> > I'm about to begin the laborious task of cataloguing my library and I
> > would be very grateful for any suggestions on what might be a good piece
> > of software to do that.

> > I've got a PowerPC Mac with a copy of Filemaker Pro, but don't let that
> > restrict anyone in their recommendations.

> Charlie:  (and others interested)

> If you had a PC-- even an old XT with a monochrome display, the kind you
> can't give away these days-- I'd suggest using PC Card Catalog Professional
> (PCCCPRO), available as shareware  from
> http://www.fastlane.net/~mceowen/diakon.html

> This costs $39 to register the shareware, and upgraded versions with various
> features will cost you $49-$119. I used it for several years to catalog a

all information clipped, but most assuredly kept for reference

Thank you all very much for your kind suggestions. I've been given hints
to a number of areas and ideas  on how to do my task. I don't have a
huge library, only 2000 to 3000 books, divided mainly into History and
Art with some well worn and often read favorite fiction stuck in
between.

The reason I'd like to do this is partly insurance, partly the process.
I have a good idea of where everything is, but I do sometimes forget
what I have. And besides, I'm only 40, so there is much time and
hopefully much room for another 10,000 or so, doesn't there?

I also have 40 plus years of History Today magazine that will have to be
catalogued some day so that I can have searchable database (here's
praying for a index CD one day) but that's another story.

Anyway, once again thanks for suggestions.

Charlie Anderson, Vancouver.

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Mike Ber » Sat, 11 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:

>Interesting post, but I'm interested in cataloging my books
>(by which I mean "listing", not necessarily "classifying")
>for insurance purposes-- not so much to put a value on them,
>but to give me an idea of what I've lost if the place ever
>burns down.

>It would take me quite a while to remember all the authors and
>titles. The problem is not "what books do I own on a particular
>subject", but rather "please write down the title of every book
>you own, from memory".

  I also recommend videotaping your collection; a slow pan across the
spines.  It's more evidence for the insurance company, as anyone can
enter book titles into a database.

  As a completist who wants every edition of certain authors, there's
no way I'm going to remember what I have and don't have.  A database
is invaluable.  I also wrote my own using Microsoft Access.

  ---Mike

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Dennis Coope » Sat, 11 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:


> >Interesting post, but I'm interested in cataloging my books
> >(by which I mean "listing", not necessarily "classifying")
> >for insurance purposes-- not so much to put a value on them,
> >but to give me an idea of what I've lost if the place ever
> >burns down.

> >It would take me quite a while to remember all the authors and
> >titles. The problem is not "what books do I own on a particular
> >subject", but rather "please write down the title of every book
> >you own, from memory".

>   I also recommend videotaping your collection; a slow pan across the
> spines.  It's more evidence for the insurance company, as anyone can
> enter book titles into a database.

>   As a completist who wants every edition of certain authors, there's
> no way I'm going to remember what I have and don't have.  A database
> is invaluable.  I also wrote my own using Microsoft Access.

>   ---Mike

Would any of you who have created your own in Access be willing to share
the database layouts/etc.?  While I might want to modify for any
specific needs...having a place to jump off from is always a big help
(and timesaver).

Dennis

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Cliff Spice » Sat, 11 Jul 1998 04:00:00


I've found many uses for the detailed collection database I use. I collect
books and papers about the University of Toronto. Since the University's
establishment in 1827 there has been so much paper that has not been
catalogued that I find it easier to give a print out of what I have in my
collection and then ask the local dealers to help me find some more obscure
pieces that I don't have. I also find that I input my wants into the
database as I go along and take a print out along on my journeys.

In regards to building a relational database, be sure that you think about
what needs to go into each table. There can be many titles written by one
author, there can be many publishers who publish the same title and so on.
If you make the mistake of putting it into one table you'll soon discover
that the two hundred volumes you have published by the same publisher will
cause you much grief if you spell the publisher's name incorrectly. It'll
mean correcting the misspelled name in 200 entries. However, if you place
the publisher into a separate, but linked table, you only need to correct
the mistake once. Creating a database is not difficult but it does take
allot of planning first.

Best of Luck,

Cliff Spicer

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Mjc » Sun, 12 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Maybe a simplistic question in the context of this discussion, but does anyone
use ABE's Homebase software? Opinions ... good, bad or indifferent?

-- Mario

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Ron Be » Sun, 12 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:

>That's certainly a valid reaon to make a list of your  books.  But, speaking
>as a librarian, I really couldn't consider it a "catalog"  in the sense that
>libraies tody use that word.  It's more like a bibliography.

I also "collect" bibliographies...

Quote:
>> I'm afraid many of my books may fall into the category of
>> "rare but not valuable", which means I'd have a hell of a time
>> replacing them regardless of their market value.

>That used to be true. Today, with mxbf, bibliofind and others on the Web, a
>lot of  the formerly hard-to-find cheap books have become much easier to
>find.

They help a lot, but I'm thinking of books that were originally
printed in very small quantities, because there weren't that many
people interested in buying them in the first place. Not because
they weren't good books, but because they were written for a very
small audience.

I don't care about 1st editions, but some of them contain
information that's very hard to find, and often there is no
second edition. A dealer has to think it's worth their time to
type an entry into the database. Maybe someday they'll be able to
just scan the barcode (assuming they still have the dust jacket)
and pick up the rest of the info from the Books in Print
database. Less typing, more incentive to list it.

I also have some books that were not published in the US-- are
there any good search sites for dealers in other countries?

Quote:
>Only books published in the past 30 years or so have ISBN numbers.

30 years is a long time. I don't think I have any books that old.
It's scary how fast stuff goes out of print. I've learned to buy
books when I first see them, because they might not be available
later. I started "collecting" books because sometimes even the
libraries don't have what I'm looking for.

I've thought about scanning certain pages and keeping a CDROM
offsite, just in case. Like backing up a hard disk, but a little
more difficult.

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Bill Fishm » Mon, 13 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Thanks for your valuable article.
Bill Fishman, Los Angeles.
Quote:

>Charlie:  (and others interested)

>If you had a PC-- even an old XT with a monochrome display, the kind you
>can't give away these days-- I'd suggest using PC Card Catalog Professional
>(PCCCPRO), available as shareware  from
>http://www.fastlane.net/~mceowen/diakon.html

 
 
 

Library software

Post by Chris Charle » Mon, 13 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:

> Maybe a simplistic question in the context of this discussion, but does anyone
> use ABE's Homebase software? Opinions ... good, bad or indifferent?

> -- Mario

I've used Homebase in a very limited way, primarily to keep track of
various incomplete collections so that I have an easy way to know if I
need something that shows up from my want lists.  I don't feel that it's
easy (or robust) enough for me to entrust it with the fruits of what
would be the overwhelmingly large amount of work involved in cataloguing
everything I have. I got my first PC in 1981, but after 17 years still
haven't pursued that project...
 
 
 

Library software

Post by Mike Ber » Tue, 14 Jul 1998 04:00:00


Quote:

>Would any of you who have created your own in Access be willing to share
>the database layouts/etc.?  While I might want to modify for any
>specific needs...having a place to jump off from is always a big help
>(and timesaver).

  I always thought it cool that the tutorial for Access was a book
database.  It's not much to start with, though.  I'll be happy to
email you my database (sans data, as it's huge.)  It was never
designed for public consumption, but it might give you some ideas.

  ---Mike