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?