Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Works for me: Readerware

Once upon a time, our books were a disorganized mess. We had lots of bookcases but had no idea what books were on which shelves or even in which room. There was no rhyme or reason to the placement, and no one seemed to think it made sense to put a book back on the shelf from which it was taken.

We spent a lot of time looking around for books.

We are a little unclear on when we actually did something about our problem by getting Readerware, a book cataloging tool. Was it just before we moved, in anticipation of packing, moving, and then trying to find large numbers of books in a much smaller house with much less bookcase space? We are not sure. In any case, we got it, and it works for me. It works so well I don't know why everyone who has a large home library doesn't use it.

It's very easy to use: type in or scan (it comes with a barcode scanner) a book's ISBN. Readerware finds the book information and loads it into the inventory. Pre-ISBN books can be entered manually. Set up a location (kitchen bookcase, office bookcase, E's room - you get the idea) for each book and you are done. When you need to find a book and it's not where you thought it would be, just search the database and - if you've kept it in its assigned location - you will find it.

The system could be better: it could attach a little beeper to the book so that if someone moved it to another area without updating the inventory, it could be found. But who wants a beeper attached to their books?

Updating locations is really easy. It's all easy.

When we started packing to move, we numbered each book box with large, easy-to-read labels and moved books into the boxes. We tried to put similar books together as much as possible - 107-Box contains mostly ancient history; 127-Box is full of keepsake books. It doesn't really matter, though; it was more important that the boxes be full to the top, as they were going to be stacked.

No, we don't have 165 boxes of books. We always start our numbering at 100. I don't know why.

I don't remember how we decided which boxes would go straight into the dungeon (crawlspace) and which would stay accessible for unloading into bookcases. But now books move in and out of boxes all the time.

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Some boxes got pretty beat up in the moving process. Some got too crushed and had to be recycled. That was mostly because they weren't filled tightly.

When I need a book for homeschooling, or sewing, or cooking, or just something to read, I search by title, author, or subject and find my book. I update the location of each book I debox. If I'm smart, I find books to put into that box, after updating their location too. When we decide it's time for a book to leave permanently, we change the location to "out" rather than delete it altogether. I used to delete the books, but then I'd start thinking about something and... "don't we own this book?" "Yeah, I think so." "But it's not in Readerware." "Did you get rid of it?" So now we keep track of the discarded books too.

This system even lets you keep track of loaned books. It won't get them back for you when you want them, though.

This is something that works for me just about every day. If you have a lot of books, and can't always find them, check out Readerware.

And check out more Works for Me Wednesday posts at We Are THAT Family.


Kendra aka The Meanest Momma said...

Interesting concept. However, with a 2 year old on the loose, I think he would foil my attempts to organize in a nanosecond.

Thanks for sharing, I never heard of Readerware before.

Sheryl said...

I used to use Readerware, but then I got rid of most of our books, and didn't need it any more.

It's a great tool, though!

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