Make the computer magic!
February 26, 2010 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Personal Library Filter: Over the last couple of years, I've been helping an elderly couple with their massive book collection. After a lot of searching, I ended up finding BookCAT which seemed to be great. But these people really want to have lots of print-outs. (The husband does not use the computer at all.) BookCAT is way too complicated for even me in this regard. What else is there?

One thing they would like to do is be able to a print list based on, say, books they bought in the last 6 months. Or biographies they bought last year. BookCAT will allow me to do a fixed date, but not a parameter like that. Even if it could, it's way too complicated for her.

She's good with a computer, but not THAT good. The program is already a bit more complicated than I'd like, but it was all I could find that had all the features I was looking for.

I need:
Title, Author, Category, Sub Category, Date Purchased, Location (in the house), format (hard or soft cover).

If this could also be used to catalogue paintings and art that would be great too.

But the big thing is ease of creating reports, like super easy "pick the fields you want and voila!".

She's considering getting a netbook to also put the data on for when they travel so they can avoid duplicates. They don't always remember if they read a book :)

Any ideas people? Cost isn't too much of an issue. If there's a free trial so I can try it out first and get a feel for it, that would be great. I have to be able to show her how to do everything or have great documentation to direct her to.

posted by sio42 to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
LibraryThing ought to do it. $25 for forever, no limit. You can scan in barcaoes or type in pieces of data to pull up existing listings, then add those to your library There's lots of options for displaying the catalog, and it should be great for printing once you've sorted/search appropriately.

Local storage of your catalog, I don't honestly know.

Pretty great, though.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:50 AM on February 26, 2010

Depending on how much time you have to devote to set up, you could build something in OpenOffice Base (or Access if they have the full MS Office suite). I imagine you could find a template to start you off pretty easily.
posted by speeb at 7:51 AM on February 26, 2010

Short answer: Netbook and Excel or other spreadsheet program.

Long answer: What if they got a netbook and you fixed them up with an excel spreadsheet that they could search and filter, etc? You could have a column for literally everything they could want to filter by. Which could be a lot.
My ASUS 1000HE came with OpenOffice pre-installed.
One tab for books, one tab for paintings, one tab for art.
Seems tailor-made for this.
Especially if she doesn't get too fancy and doesn't let him touch it at all :)
posted by willmize at 7:53 AM on February 26, 2010

LibraryThing is extremely easy, supports personalized tagging, and can incorporate all sorts of data. There are multiple display options, including display by acquisition date. And yes, you can print it all out.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:55 AM on February 26, 2010

the problem with Excel is the printing, i would think.
i started off in Excel, but there were just SO MANY columns - author first name, author last name, title, category, subcategory - it was just huge.

perhaps i'll give it another look tho. it could just be my desire to have this be a database that is making it complicated. it'd be a lot easier to do screenshots and How To's for Excel or to explain it over the phone. and i'm pretty good at Excel.

i have tried Access (and BookCAT is based on that), but it's the reports that get me.
it needs to be EASY.
posted by sio42 at 7:57 AM on February 26, 2010

The reports can be made easy for them via forms. It's the initial creation that's difficult (for you). :)
posted by speeb at 8:02 AM on February 26, 2010

i didn't know that LibraryThing had reporting/print-outs

i know it's a popular suggestion on the green and i've dabbled with it personally but haven't really gotten into it. i'll give that a second look as well.
posted by sio42 at 8:03 AM on February 26, 2010

I have some acquaintances with a similar issue - they have an immense amount of books, and want to catalog them so that they can put them in storage with an index telling them "Book X is in Box Y" and so forth. I had suggested Delicious Library simply because it integrated a barcode scanner, making book entry easy. Does LibraryThing support scanning the barcodes? I would think that entering that many ISBN numbers by hand would be an ungodly tedious thing to do.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:29 AM on February 26, 2010

i have an Eris, so i have access to a barcode scanner.

most of the books are already entered. but a lot of the ones that aren't are very old and don't have ISBN or barcodes (fun to look at but time consuming!).
posted by sio42 at 8:36 AM on February 26, 2010

Does LibraryThing support scanning the barcodes?

Yes. Via CueCat!
posted by mattbucher at 8:49 AM on February 26, 2010

Hae you looked at BiblioExpress?
posted by adamvasco at 9:04 AM on February 26, 2010

I've been using a CueCat myself for several years, but it can be terribly slow if it doesn't recognize the barcode immediately. If you have a lot of stuff to scan it's well worth buying an Acan 8100 USB barcode scanner. They can be found on eBay for under $30 shipped.
posted by the biscuit man at 10:12 AM on February 26, 2010

I used EndNote to catalog a small special library, but we didn't barcode anything.
posted by mareli at 10:30 AM on February 26, 2010

I'm a big fan of Delicious Library. You can use a webcam to scan barcodes, print things out, export to your iPhone so you can carry around your catalog... it's nifty!
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 11:50 AM on February 26, 2010

i ended up exporting the info out of BookCAT and making a spreadsheet with the autofilter buttons on the headings.

SO much easier for her. and easier for me to help her with and make some screenshots for her.

i set the print settings so that she doesn't have to worry about it.

i was trying to overthink this and trying to the best way for the books rather than the user.
and it's all about the user experience, right? :)

thanks willmize! you win the prize, i'll eat a cookie for you :)
posted by sio42 at 11:23 AM on March 1, 2010

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