Cataloging the Homeschool Library

Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae

Everybody knows homeschoolers have a lot of books. We collect them like dust. Our kids are drawn to them. And, usually, they become a part of our home decor in almost every room.

If your local library has an electronic catalog of their books, and you have almost as many books as the library, then shouldn’t you be able to keep up with your books electronically, too? With new library software like Delicious Library and ReaderWare, being the school librarian has never been easier or more fun.

Here are some of the things you can do with a library software.

Identify, Sort, and Locate Books

With your book list compiled safely on your hard drive or the internet, you know EXACTLY what books you have and which ones you still need to purchase. You can categorize and view your books in a way that makes sense to you. And if you’re super organized, you can even make a note of where the book is physically in your home.

Assuming your books don’t sprout legs and wander around the house like mine do.

Add Books Easily

Delicious Library works with Mac computers, so it uses the built in iSight camera to scan the ISBN number on the back of the book. It uses the ISBN to identify the book, title it, pull up a picture of the cover, and even lets you know what the book is worth on Amazon.

Other library softwares allow you to use a bar code scanner. Scanning books in is fun and you can get the kids involved. (Mine can’t work the scanner yet, but they like to look at themselves in the camera while I scan. It can get kind of chaotic, but there are always lots of giggles.)

Search By Subject

So often, I buy books to use as “extras” for subjects and then set them aside and forget them. The search function in library software acts just like your library’s electronic catalog.

If we are going to study the Revolutionary War, I search for it in our catalog and find more books than just the ones I labeled as “curriculum.” And since I already made note of the book’s location, I can find it without digging through a closet or hunting under my bed.

Be A Real Lending Library

We can’t read all of our books all at the same time, but sometimes I feel hesitant to loan school books out because I know I will forget who I gave them to. With library software, you can keep track of who you loan books to. Delicious Library will even email you AND your friend whenever you specify the “due date.”

For people who use literature heavy curriculum, this can be so useful. You can swap books with another friend using the same curriculum without worrying about forgetting what you had or which book belonged to whom.

Take Your Library With You

I don’t always plan my trips to the used bookstore, but there’s nothing more disconcerting than standing in an aisle, holding a book that’s on sale but not being able to remember if I already purchased it or not. While some of the library softwares available have mobile options, ALL of them allow you to publish your list to the web (publicly or privately) or send it in email form.

I emailed myself a copy of our library list that I can access on my smartphone during spontaneous shopping trips. This cuts down on double purchases and is certainly easier than lugging a card catalog around in my purse.

There are several software options available for you to choose from. A quick poll of fellow homeschool moms led me to these four favorites:

  • Delicious Library (for Macs only)
  • LibraryThing (free and web-based. Includes the social aspect of linking you to other families who use the same books, i.e. other homeschool moms to loan to and from.)
  • BookCat – (Windows only)
  • ReaderWare – (Windows or Mac. Looks similar in format to iTunes.)

How do you embrace the role of school librarian at your house? Do you have a favorite library software or filing system?

About Lora

Lora Lynn Fanning blogged for 11 years about her family life with seven kids at Vitafamiliae. These days, she homeschools her growing brood, teaches writing both in person for co-ops and online for Brave Writer, and writes at her new site,


  1. Kimberly says:

    I have an account at Library Thing but have not found it intuitive. The free accounts are limited to a listing of 200 books, and a lifetime account is only $25 (? I think ~ that’s a ballpark). They also offer yearly memberships.

    You’ve inspired me to re-think this. I’d like to keep not only a list of books I own, but a list of books I would LIKE to consider for future subjects, and a list of books I HAVE used (i.e. from the library) but do not own. sigh.

  2. Um, I have a typed sheet of paper taped on the plastic tubs that house most of my books that aren’t in use. (I have a master copy on my computer.) I actually stack two of the big tubs and put a tablecloth over them to hide them from sight. I know what’s in there, but no one else does. The shelves are a different story and I have five of those.

    I will definitely look into this system you’ve introduced. Especially for keeping track of what I have so I don’t repurchase something. I’m attending a huge homeschool book sale tomorrow. That would have come in handy!
    Southern Gal’s latest post: Happy Birthday

  3. I haven’t catalog all our books yet. I’ve been looking for a way to catalog…pen and paper seems to big of a task. 🙂 I may try one of the software listed. I’m not sure if I could use Library Thing for free…..pretty sure our book collection is 200+
    Sara S’s latest post: Trial and error with chocolate

  4. What a great idea! Back in my teaching days, my low-tech solution was an alphabetical printout of all my titles pinned to the wall. Kids could leave comments next to tiles they really enjoyed.

    I must confess my home library is initially sorted by color (covers and spines stay with me) followed by available space (which is always limited. I think my books multiply while I’m not looking).
    caroline starr rose’s latest post: Running a Book Club for Kids

  5. Thanks for giving me a new idea. I hadn’t thought of using a library software program. I also liked the idea o scanning all the books in intead of typing them. I wonder if you could do that with your games, DVDs and other materials, too?

    • Christina – I know you can catalog anything with Delicious Library. It has options for music, games, tools, and clothes. But you can add any other category. Very helpful when my sisters borrow my clothes!
      Lora Lynn’s latest post: Marian the Librarian

  6. Oh my gosh! I had no idea that Mac had library software! It’s amazing. Thanks for sharing this tool!

  7. abdemoss says:

    Thanks for this wonderful article. I have felt overwhelmed and frustrated at times with not knowing for sure what books I do and don’t have. I usually ask my seven children, which has proven a fairly accurate though not always expedient system. I think I will try one of your suggestions!

  8. This is so timely. Just a few days ago, I was searching the ‘Net for tutorials on the Dewey Decimal System. I will take a look at the software options you mentioned. Another one that you didn’t mention is Book Collector from It works with a scanner. They sell several models, the cheapest of which is only $20. Collectorz also has software for DVDs, games, music, photos, etc.
    Cara Riggles’s latest post: Testing Windows Live Writer

  9. I have Delicious library on my computer, but have not bought a scanner yet. How much do they cost?
    Martha Artyomenko’s latest post: The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder

  10. My, as I read this I was thinking, “how wonderful, Delicious books can scan the ISBN number and locate the book in your house!!” I read it again and realised technology hadn’t quite gone that far. Wouldn’t that be great though if it could do a scan of the house looking for ISBNs of all the books around the house!

  11. We use librarything not to keep track of the books we have in our house but to keep track of the books we’ve taken out of the library. Before we take any back I enter in the books, make notes by the ones we liked, and add tags. That way we can easily go back and find our favorite books again. I also love that since I’m tagging all of them if later on one of my kids shows an interest in cats or flowers, etc, I can easily find all the books we’ve read so far with that topic. I teach part-time as well so I love having all the titles of my favorite books at my finger tips when planning lessons or looking for books that would interest specific students outside my home.

  12. Oh Pippi…good idea! May have to check into that as I don’t want to lose those favorites (especially history and science living books) that worked for us.
    Amy @ simply necessary’s latest post: Fresh Perspectives

  13. I am beyond excited about this. Thank you for sharing, Lora Lynn! Organizing our books is on my to-do list for July, and I think Delicious Library would be perfect for us. It will remind me of my days of working at Barnes and Noble, too. 🙂
    Hannah’s latest post: The Gift of Hospitality

  14. I’d love to catalog our books, but the task seems overwhelming and we don’t have that many-in relation to what many homeschoolers probably have. If my 5 year old could read, he could read the titles to me while I typed them in, but…

    About 10 years ago I taught Pre-K for a Christian school and ended up with a bunch of Scholastic paperbacks. I made a spreadsheet to track them and was amazed when I had over 200 from just one year’s worth of buying/collecting!

    Anyone know how much any of the software for PC’s costs-or the scanners to read the barcodes? This would be a wonderful tool to have and as one poster mentioned-scanning in books from the library. Ours doesn’t keep a log of what cardholders have checked out, but it sure would be nice to have a record!
    Kelly’s latest post: HomeSchool

  15. I discovered a wonderful app for my iPhone called ibookshelf. I’ve cataloged nearly all of our “school” books in much less time than I could’ve without this great app! You can scan the barcode & it will find the book if the ISBN is in the code; otherwise, you can easily look books up manually by ISBN, title, author, etc. You can put books into collections (I have books in collections according to Sonlight cores), search by genre, title, author, or keyword, import cover images or take a photo of your book & use that, keep track of not only the books you own, but those you want to buy, have borrowed, or have lent out! You can also send a spreadsheet to your email so you have a copy elsewhere….the list of great features goes on. I believe it was around $1.99.

  16. Christopher says:

    I am searching for library software to begin cataloging our growing library and came upon this article. Very helpfull as I begin the process. I thought I’d share a few of the products I am going to try.

    1. “Book Collector” from, reasonably priced and has a mobile app. Windows and Mac
    2. ReaderWare from -mentioned above.
    3. DataCrow from, Open Source, Multi-Platform only requires Java 1.6 and above. A catalog everything software for movies, books, music, recipes, software and more.
    4. Librarian Pro from, also reasonably priced and will catalog several catagories of items like books, movies and music

  17. – it is unlimited and free with a lot more social networking to it than LT. I like LT too, but the limited free membership doesn’t do it for me.

    How do you do the emsiling for borrowed books in Delicious Library? I apparently overlooked that!
    MJ @ Creative Madness Mama’s latest post: All Kinds of Kisses by Nancy Tafuri

  18. Noel Boehm says:

    Amazing idea! I just keep collecting more books with nowhere to put them and then I forget what I have.

  19. Thank you for such a great list of resources! We’re looking at starting a small lending library and this has been a great help. Cheers!

  20. Libib is another good option too. As a mobile app, can use a scanner to add books by barcode ISBN, as well as view or search your “libraries” when you are out. Also has a website can access your “libraries” (and can add more books- like ones too old to have a barcode). I have the free version, and have had already added over 700 of our books!

Share Your Thoughts


CommentLuv badge

Travel the world all summer with our
FREE summer book club, starting soon!

anabolic pharma