Cataloging Our Home Library: Why and How

I fully recognize that this post puts me in a whole other category of crazy. Type A librarian run amok. This week I cataloged my (children’s book) home library. I was due for a massive overhaul of our book collection anyhow, so I combined the need to sort and purge (farewell, baby books) with my interest in having everything organized digitally. Since I had all the books out and under scrutiny, I added the extra step of scanning them into an app to catalog them.

libib cataloging home library

“But WHY?” you ask? Good question. Two reasons.

First, I wanted to be able to avoid the mental angst at every. single. booksale. “Do I have this already? I think I might. But maybe I just borrowed it.” With my collection at my fingertips, I can know instantly and remotely what I own.

Second, I wanted to be able to search my home library for particular topics we’re interested in. “Show me, magical app, what books do we own about insects?”

Turns out, the first parameter was met easily; the second, not so much. I nearly gave up the whole idea when I was only able to search titles, not descriptions and keywords. All the up front work of entering my books didn’t seem to have enough of a payoff.  Worse case scenario I buy a duplicate, I’ll consider the $1 a donation to the library or booksale. But the ability to search topics and keywords made all the effort worthwhile to me.

I took five apps for test drives after searching reviews of many others. Only two met both my parameters. Only one met both parameters from an interface that was easy to navigate, contained many records in their system, and offered quick entry of items (two buttons to push): Libib.

(This is NOT an affiliate post. Just what worked for me! Libib is free, but does have a “pro” version with circulation options. I use the free version.)


I’m so happy to have found Libib! I love that it’s a website AND an app. They work hand in hand, and it’s actually the website that gives greater functionality to Libib. Although I entered the majority (90%?) of my items through the barcode scanner feature of the app, I used the website to search for others that didn’t have barcodes or whose barcodes weren’t recognized (older books, missing dust jackets). I was impressed by the number of records retrieved and their quality, particularly in comparison with the other apps I tried.  Whichever entry method is used, Libib automatically retrieves the title information– cover art, description, number of pages, publication date, tags.  It’s also through the website (not the app) that searching through records by keywords is offered– this means, if the description/summary, or tags mention a term, it will be searched. Website & app sync with the push of a button.

I found scanning the books to be oddly satisfying, and so simple. Preschool Bookworm actually cataloged a hefty chunk of the books. And he learned the sight words “scan another” too!  I completed the whole process over two days (I should have clocked it precisely, but I’d estimate less than 5 hours for scanning and manual entry).

In case you’re curious, we own 466 children’s books and 21 audiobooks. But not for long, I’m sure! Now I’m itching to buy more books to scan! 🙂

If you’re interested in the other piece of organizing our home library– the physical space– take a look at this post about how I used the Kon Mari method with my books, and keep an eye out for my upcoming Part Two post from last weekend’s project. Follow me on Facebook for updates!

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