Help me choose an ILS for a really tiny library
December 28, 2010 6:03 PM   Subscribe

An integrated library system (ILS) that is easy to use for a very, very small library?

I have a friend who is setting up a very small church library (about 300 volumes at most). She is OK with a computer, but not great, so I'd like to help her find a really easy-to-use, off-the-shelf, lightweight ILS.

Most of the options I've looked at are either too heavy for her needs or are too difficult to use. Something that is open source is probably not what we're looking for, but it needs to be inexpensive.

I was considering a paid LibraryThing membership, but how could that be used to keep track of what books are checked out (and by whom)? I don't even know that barcodes will be necessary here -- the circulation of items will be pretty light. Would something like LibraryThing with an accompanying (offline) spreadsheet do the trick? Or would a heavier ILS be better for her?

I've looked at Koha (too heavy and too difficult for her to use), L4U (looks confusing), and Open Biblio (again, too confusing). What am I missing? I also read this old thread, but they have over 2,000 volumes.

Complicating factor: I'm not in the same city as her, so helping her get the software up and running by installing it for her and showing her how to use it is not an option. It has to be easy enough to install and use for her to figure it out on her own. She is fine with email, Word, Excel, and the like, but anything tricky won't be feasible.

If you run a church (or other very small) library, what do you use? How do you manage your collection?
posted by k8lin to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Circulation isn't really built into LibraryThing, but it's definitely doable: tag the checked-out book "out," and write the patron's name, due date, etc. in the "private comments" field, which will be visible only on the admin side.
posted by Siobhan at 7:05 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: Why does it have to be on a computer? For 300 books manual checkout works fine. What problem are you trying to solve with an ILS?
posted by saucysault at 10:09 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can she by chance use a Mac, such that Delicious Library is an option?
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:19 PM on December 28, 2010

Ah, Google fu says MediaMan might be a reasonable Windows alternative to Delicious Library.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:23 PM on December 28, 2010

Best answer: As a contributor to both Koha and Evergreen, I feel funny saying this - but for 300 volumes, a spreadsheet may be just the thing since she's already comfortable with Excel. A few columns to record basic bibliographic data like title and author, a column to record who currently has an item out, and she can both keep track of current checkouts and, if needed, generate printed and HTML catalogs.
posted by metaquarry at 6:25 AM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, if she expects to outgrow a spreadsheet at some point, she can ease a future transition by recording the ISBNs and LCCNs of the books on the spreadsheet.
posted by metaquarry at 6:28 AM on December 29, 2010

Best answer: I'm with saucysault. The old fashioned signout cards and a filing box will work just fine for 300 items.

metaquarry's spreadsheet would work, too, but it still is more complicated than is necessary.

I administer an ILS for a living. Avoid them unless you need a web catalog, acquisitions, serials, oodles of stats, etc.)
posted by QIbHom at 7:44 AM on December 29, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! My friend really wanted to use a computer, because she thought it would be more modern, but after talking about all the pros and cons, she has decided to go with paper. For the collection, paper really makes the most sense.

I mentioned this thread to her, and she was thrilled for all of your help. We both want to thank you for your time and insight.
posted by k8lin at 3:56 PM on December 30, 2010

« Older Seen an ad with a black midget buying gold?   |   Selling water(color) by the river? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.