How to web2.0 a small library?
February 9, 2010 3:08 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to update a small library, as in cataloging the books and having a way to check them out?

I'm working with a church on turning their library into a resource room. Basically purging 85% of their old books, and coming up with a new way to check out the current and new books.

That majority of the books will be resources, as in check them out for a short period of time. But there will also be a library of books to read, IE adolescent development, Christian education, etc... But there will be several copies of some books. If we are using a book for a 6 week study, we might have 12-20 copies of it in our library that we would check out to the people in the classes.

I'd like something that we could put on our website for people to see what we have available, but in order to check them out they have to go to the room where a "librarian" will check it out to them.

I'd love to keep it simple, but some features like auto emailing people when their books are due would be fantastic. The ability to print a label, bar code, whatever. We won't charge fees for books that are late though.

Any thoughts? I considering having everything in a simple database, a google document perhaps, but I think some added functionality would be good as the library itself grows.
posted by peripatew to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I think many of the things you are looking for are available in Delicious Library, which I use for my personal collections--but if you're doing this on a shoestring, perhaps this would be a workable solution short of implementing a more expensive database project. I think it's Mac only, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:11 PM on February 9, 2010

Google docs has some capabilities that you might find helpful. It's free, and you can use it to set up online forms and a website that will allow people to check out or request books. It's also free. It may take a little tinkering to get things up and running, though.
posted by _cave at 3:21 PM on February 9, 2010

Check out Koha ILS.
posted by rhizome at 3:23 PM on February 9, 2010

Yup, seconding Koha. Good for small libraries. If you can live without a dedicated circulation system and want something easier or hosted, perhaps you could try LibraryThing.
posted by the dief at 3:29 PM on February 9, 2010

Besides Koha, Evergreen is another open-source ILS.
posted by box at 3:35 PM on February 9, 2010

If you want to keep it simple you do not, in any way, want Koha or Evergreen unless you or someone else in your system is really excited about tweaking with open source software.

There are basically two ways to go with something like this... a small scale library catalog [which will expect to work with MARC records on the back end] or a database that has basic checkoutability functions but operates more like... a database. The big deal is that MARC records are available but most libraries pay for them which means getting them for free can be a pain and something your institution likely doesn't care about.

Then there are sort of fusion solutions like Library Thing [which has MARC on the back end but doesn't really have anything like a circ system, you'd have to hack one with tags] or Delicious Library. There are also a few smaller open source options that you can peek at here or on Wikipedia.

The short answer is that there's not one dominant model that works in your situation. I was automating a small library using Koha over the past year or so and it's not really something to be taken lightly. It's a hassle and you have to be techier than I am to do it right. Not trying to scare you off, but you might want to look at what your main concerns are and then work from there.

If you want to Web 2.0 it and have something that people enjoy looking at I'd go with Library Thing and worry about the checkout thing separately [you can use tags on books like IN OUT BOOKCLUB or something] and skip all the barcoding and whatever. Web native, has some cool features and you can get your data out. Sorry the new isn't better, I agree it's a lousy state of affairs.
posted by jessamyn at 4:18 PM on February 9, 2010

you might want to try datacrow - it's free, cross-platform, it will catalog all sorts of things (including books), and you can mark items as being lent out, to whom, etc...

you can also generate a "report" which is nothing more than an html dump of everything in the database - which might satisfy your request to let users see what's available.

lifehacker just did a short writeup of it.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:48 PM on February 9, 2010

There are templates for Filemaker Pro and Bento to perform this function, both great software...
posted by JohnBlaze at 8:58 PM on February 9, 2010

Not to be a total "go check out my blog!" person but I asked this question [i.e. put a link to it] and got a few other responses there that you might find helpful.
posted by jessamyn at 1:29 PM on February 12, 2010

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