The little library that could
October 1, 2009 7:25 PM   Subscribe

Mini-libraryFilter: My small gallery has a reading room, with probably a couple of hundred books. I want a cataloguing and lending system that can turn these books into a real library.

I'm ideally looking for a web-based system that will let me enter published and unpublished books, have a publicly-available online catalogue, and let me easily keep track of what's been lent out and who has it. LibraryThing seemed like the trick, but there's no lending system, and the only workaround seems to involve a lot of futzing around with private comments and the like. As I'm not going to be the one using the system most of the time, I'd like it to be easier than that.

The other online services I've found seem to involve lending to other users only. We're on Ubuntu, so Delicious Library is out, even if it could publish an online catalogue. At the moment we're dangling over the precipice of a spreadsheet, and no one wants that.

If anyone has any suggestions, fire away! You can come to our next opening and have wine.
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen people do this with LibraryThing using tags. So you can have two tags IN/OUT and then a patron123 tag or some such. It's still fiddling around, but as someone who has looked at a lot of these little systems, they've got one of the easiest scan --> catalog systems around and a while heap of extra features that make the catalog nice to deal with, like exportable data and a bit pf an API. I'll be watching this thread for other good ideas.
posted by jessamyn at 7:31 PM on October 1, 2009

Incidentally I'm using Koha in a slightly larger library right now (8000 books) and I do NOT recommend it for a solo library that doesn't have data interoperability issues.
posted by jessamyn at 7:31 PM on October 1, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks jessamyn. I should add that I don't expect us to develop a patron system as most issues will probably be one-offs. I wondered about patron tags, but there'd be a privacy problem unless we just call them 'patron1' and so on, then have a spreadsheet on the desktop that correlates each of those to a person, and if we do that it may as well just be 'loan1' and so on...

And I'm thinking about this too much. I do have other aspects of my job, really. :)
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y at 7:57 PM on October 1, 2009

200 books?

A couple of sheets of paper. Or 200 index cards.

Unless this is part of a project to go from 200 books to 10,000 books in the next year, what you need is a pencil and a little bit of tree fiber.
posted by gum at 8:12 PM on October 1, 2009

Best answer: Use LibraryThing as the patron/user-facing part of the library, so they can see what's in the library, and just use a spreadsheet or even a notebook to record who has which book?
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:49 AM on October 2, 2009

You might want to have a look at Data Crow.

We use it for our home (800+ book) library and it also has a lending function built in.
It'll pull data from Amazon, etc. You can also manually add unpublished books.

It's open source and works on all platforms (as long as you've got Java).
posted by dogsbody at 1:20 AM on October 2, 2009

seconding LibraryThing and use a tab for loaned out and add any comments you like in the remarks field.
You have the option of keeping LibraryThing private. It also extremely easy to add or remove books as you wish.
posted by adamvasco at 3:20 AM on October 2, 2009

Also there is the LibraryThing For Libraries:
posted by wenestvedt at 6:55 AM on October 2, 2009

LibraryThing for the catalog, old fashioned cards and an alphabetized box for check out. With only a couple of hundred books I assume it won't be that hard to look at the shelf and see if it is checked out or not.

I run a "library" of about 400 items. The cards are a really easy, no fuss way to check out.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:25 AM on October 2, 2009

Response by poster: Hmm, looks like it'll be a two part system. Given the number of volunteers, it probably is simplest to have the lending info in a notebook, and then the catalogue can be its own thing.

Guess I'll have to join the call for a lending feature pony over at librarything.

Thanks peeps!
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y at 12:51 PM on October 2, 2009

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