The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Perhaps the full title of this article should be How to Find Someone Who Has the Book You Seek and Also Let Everyone Else Know About the Books You Own and Also Catalog Your Own Personal Library with Minimal Effort.
You can find dozens of programs that will help you catalog your personal book collection. Some of these will create a list that you can print or store on your own computer or store on your smartphone or even upload to the World Wide Web. Some products also keep track of the books you want to read (sometimes called a wish list) and will also keep track of books you have loaned out to others, including the date loaned. Some cataloging products will also track other media, such as CD and DVD disks, video games, and more. However, one online service does all that and lots more. Best of all, you can share your catalog with others and also see what others have in their collections. The service is available either free of charge or for very low fees, depending upon the options you select.
The product I use is primarily a service for cataloging books, but it can also be used to catalog and track other media, including music and videos. It even works for ebooks. You can sort, share, explore, import, and export data pertaining to your personal or even institutional library. You can track who has borrowed which book. You can see other users who have similar libraries to yours and browse books they have that you might be interested in. Perhaps best of all, you can find reviews of thousands of books on the system.
Of course, you can search your inventory at any time, whether seated at your desktop computer at home or by using your handheld smartphone, tablet, or other mobile computer when at a book fair or even at a garage sale. Do I already have that book? (Or CD, DVD, video game ebook, or other media?) This web site can answer that question and save you time and money.
With most library card catalog software, entering information about all the books you own can be tedious if you need to enter everything on the keyboard. Luckily, in today’s “online, all the time” environment, manual data entry is no longer necessary. The owners of this online service will even sell you a $17 barcode scanner that plugs into your computer’s USB port. All newer books have a unique barcode printed in each although you probably won’t find this in a genealogy book printed in the 1890s. Simply load the appropriate software in your Macintosh or Windows computer, open the book to view the appropriate page, and hold the barcode scanner a few inches away from the book’s barcode. The complete information about the book, including title, author, publisher, date published, and more will automatically be entered into your personal list of books in inventory.
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