I have always owned hundreds of books…never wishing to part with a single one. Not even an old college textbook. Now that I have children, my book inventory has exponentially exploded to THOUSANDS of books. It’s a disease, I think. More so when you’re a home educator. It had gotten to the point where I would be browsing books in a store or yard sale and couldn’t remember if a particular title was already a part of our home inventory. It got bad…really bad. I found myself buying books I had already purchased before!
I needed a system to help me list and organize all my books. At first I considered building my own database from scratch but then I somehow got clued into http://www.LibraryThing.com. It’s a FREE online database that allows you to create and organize an inventory of all your books. All you need to do is enter in the book’s unique ISBN (International Standard Book Number…that 10 or 13 digit number over the bar code on the back of the book) and…Voila!…it’s part of your online library with a photo of the book cover, pre-assigned categories, publisher, publication date and a whole bunch of assorted goodies.
Doing a unit study on volcanos? Simply search your LibraryThing.com library with the keyword “volcano” and it lists all the titles that include it! Or do a search on a specific category such as “American Revolution” and any title in your library that is related to that topic will be listed for you!
Found some Hardy Boys books at a store or yard sale but can’t remember which ones you already have? Use your LibraryThing mobile (available on smart phones) to search your library real quick to be sure before you purchase any duplicates.
Here’s a few tips to get started:
- If you’ve got a large inventory of books all over the house already, entering them all in will take some time. Do a little each day or hire cheap labor (i.e. a teenager) like I did to plow through them in one fell swoop (or multiple swoops).
- After the books have been added, now is also a good time to physically organize them (back) into a fitting bookshelf somewhere in the house where it makes sense and will be easy to hunt down. You can even add a location in the Comments section of the online book entry such as “Geography shelf” (if, in fact, you have one) or “Kid’s Bedroom”.
- The process will go by quicker if the inputter is an expert in the use of the numeric keypad on the keyboard.
- Some book’s ISBNs just can’t be located in the LibaryThing database sources. No worries, there’s a way to input the book and its information manually. Fortunately, this is a rare occurance.
- I also use LibaryThing to manually enter other titles that are not of the printed type, such as DVDs (documentaries, movies, etc.) and even Unit Studies that I’ve save to PDF on my computer. Just be sure to add an appropriate category or keyword to help locate that title during a search.
- Get into the habit of adding any new books that come into your house AS SOON as they enter the house. If you are a member of BookMooch.com, they provide a nifty little interface to immediately link over to LibraryThing during the process in which you acknowledge receipt of one of their books.
LibaryThing is more than just listing and organizing your books. You can create reading lists, post reviews, have discussion chats with other users, as well as share your library with others. Personally, I just use it for listing and organizing books right now because that’s my greatest need at that moment (and, quite frankly, any other spare time I have is sucked up by Facebook).
LibraryThing. You’ll love it. Happy book organizing, folks!