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The Home Library Problem Solved 328

Zack Grossbart writes "About 18 months ago I posted the following question to Ask Slashdot: 'How do you organize a home library with 3,500 books?' I have read all the responses, reviewed most of the available software, and come up with a good solution described in the article The Library Problem. This article discusses various cataloging schemes, reviews cheap barcode scanners, and outlines a complete solution for organizing your home library. Now you can see an Ask Slashdot question with a definitive answer."
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The Home Library Problem Solved

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    • by an.echte.trilingue ( 1063180 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:37PM (#21661753) Homepage
      It doesn't appear slashdotted to me, but just in case:

      In March of 2006 my wife Mary and I owned about 3,500 books. We both have eclectic interests, voracious appetites for knowledge, and a great love of used bookstores. The problem was that we had no idea what books we had or where any of them were. We lost books all the time, cursed late into the night digging through piles for that one book we knew must be there, and even bought books only to find that we already owned them. There were books on random shelves, books on the floor, we were tripping over books when we walked up and down the stairs. In short, we had a mess.

      We needed to get organized. We needed a way to store all of our books so they were easily accessible. We also needed to integrate the two separate book collections which represented one of the remaining holdouts of our single lives. We got together and came up with a list of requirements for our new system. ...and yes we are both engineers.

      1. It needs to be easy to find a book.
      2. It needs to be easy to add a book to the system.
      3. The systems needs to handle foreign language books.
      4. It needs to be easy to maintain the system going forward.
      5. The initial cataloging effort can't take forever.

      To complete this project we needed a system to organize all of the books, a way to quickly add books to that system, and a place to store all of the books.

      A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

      Our first task was to decide what system we should use for ordering the books. Most of the systems used to organize books are based on combinations of the author's name, the title of the book, and the category of the subject matter. Some of the systems provide a general outline for where a book should be and other systems are very specific. We considered three different systems: alphabetical, Dewey Decimal, and Library of Congress.


      Probably the most common system used for organizing home libraries is alphabetizing. Books are arranged in alphabetical order by title or author's name. This makes books reasonably easy to find, but puts Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie next to Runner's World Guide to Injury Prevention by Dagny Scott Barrios. This organization makes it difficult to browse books.

      Adding categorization to alphabetical sorting can fix that problem. This system organizes books into categories and then alphabetically within those categories. In this system the book Three Seductive Ideas by Jerome Kagan might end up next to The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker because they are both about psychology. This system makes browsing by subject possible, but it requires you to create categories for each book. Should The State, War, and the State of War by Kalevi J. Holsti be categorized as international relations, warfare, or politics? Creating categories which will work well with a set of unknown books is very difficult. We needed a system with established categories.

      Dewey Decimal

      Dewey Decimal is familiar to just about everyone who came through the American educational system. There is a good chance the library from your grade school used Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC for short). DDC assigns each book a number based on its subject matter. DDC organized all categories into three levels. The system has 10 main classes, 100 divisions and 1000 sections. The book Larousse Gastronomique edited by Prosper Montagne may have a DDC number of 641.3/003 21 - 600 the main class for technology, 641 is the division for food and drink, and 3/003 21 indicates the specific subsection specified in that library.

      However, DDC has one big problem. The assigned numbers are not fixed. There is no central authority assigning DDC numbers to books and the same book can have a different number in two different libraries. We didn't want to spend time working out the right catalog number for each of our books; we just wanted

  • You burn them, or at least the ones which you're unlikely to read again.

    Or if that offends you, set them free [bookcrossing.com]...

    • Or if that offends you, set them free...

      Yes for the books that he isn't planning on reading, there are many urban centers that will take them. This guy's collection is large enough for him to consider a loaning system as a public service, if he's the philanthropic type.
      • I have about ~7500 books at home (I have approximately 750 in my home office at the moment) and I know people always want to borrow books. If I had a way to track them, I'd be much happier to lend them out, but of course the article is slashdotted.

        What I used to do was create a database as they went out- put in the ISBN, date, time, author, title, etc, etc, etc, and the lendee. Worked pretty well, and I slowly built up the database book by book.
        • Re:You don't (Score:5, Informative)

          by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:52PM (#21660925) Homepage Journal

          I have a ginormous amount of books, so I have two problems - one is creating an appropriate space [flickr.com] for them, which I have solved, and the other is cataloging.

          For organization, I'm simply using PostgreSQL on the house server, which is hugely fast, completely flexible, and allows me to access everything from the web - so I can just drag a laptop in there, or work on any machine in or out of the house. A few lines of Python and bingo, library system. I may clean it up a little and release it, it could be prettier.

          I tried Delicious Library (which I do use for my DVD and CD collections) and a couple of other solutions, but for large libraries, they were all too slow.

        • If I had a way to track them, I'd be much happier to lend them out, but of course the article is slashdotted.
          The article doesn't mention anything about lending... but this might help if you have a LAMP box: Webrary [acqualba.it]
    • Re:You don't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:06PM (#21661207) Journal
      What's the point of reading books if you're not going to keep them for reference? I mean you can't remember everything that's in a book, hell I'm lucky if I can remember 10%. But I do remember what kind of stuff is in a book and roughly where it is, so I can look it up when I need to. I may never read a book from cover to cover twice, but there's still a lot of knowledge to be had by keeping it around.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TuringTest ( 533084 )
        There are other books than reference ones, you know. Like, for example, novels.

        If you read a book just for entertainment, there's no point in keeping it around once you know how it ends (unless it's really a classic that you want to keep for quoting passages, but that's not a high percentage of books for an average reader).
        • Re:You don't (Score:4, Insightful)

          by HybridJeff ( 717521 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:42PM (#21661849) Homepage
          Following your logic there's no reason to ever buy movies either, because, hey you already know how its going to end. Now assuming you'll never read the book again then I guess there isn't much point to keeping it (aside from lending out books to friends and so on) but lots of people reread novels, and not just the ones that are worth quoting from. For the same reason that people like to rewatch old movies that they have enjoyed, rereading an old book years later, even if it wasn't some masterpiece can be quite enjoyable. In the worst case scenario rereading old novels you enjoyed is a better use of your time than watching mediocre reruns on TV.
      • What's the point of reading books if you're not going to keep them for reference?

        It depends.

        All my non-fiction, historical, reference manuals, and game rule books I keep with a passion since often more than not, I'll have to grab one for a debate on some forum somewhere or to quote something ;)

        But in my modern fiction section, I have a great deal of stuff that I'll read once and then never read again. I mean seriously... War Hammer 40K pulp novels are fun to read, but I don't even think they are officially
    • by frakir ( 760204 )
      First rip them to Mp3s then burn...
  • easier (Score:5, Funny)

    by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:05PM (#21660101) Journal
    Meh, I just married a librarian instead.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      wife...? what is this 'wife' that you speak of
      • Re:easier (Score:5, Funny)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @05:04PM (#21662267) Homepage

        wife...? what is this 'wife' that you speak of

        Wife is a slightly different version of the same product as Girlfriend.

        It comes with some more restrictive licensing, and there's a little bit of vendor lock in, but some people don't object.

        Opinions seem to be mixed on if you should stick with Girlfriend, but it largely depends on your needs and long-term plans. Many people who add the add-on package Child 1.0 end up going this route, but it's not mandatory.

        It's got higher maintenance costs than Girlfriend, but has some features not found in that package as well, so it's a trade off.

        Sometimes upgrading a version of Girlfriend can have a steep learning curve, as they tend to randomly change features with each major version, so you should really determine if your current version of Girlfriend meets your needs before you upgrade.


    • George Bush reads slashdot? It's a lie!
    • I use goodreads.com - it is free and has a highly intuitive interface. In order to add a book, all you need to do is enter the title of the book or the authors last name or isbn, or import your recent buys directly from Amazon.com. You can even export your booklist to an excel document. The tagging feature is a nice alternative to a formal card catalog system for a home library. So, for example, for Isaac Asimov's Foundation, my tags are read, scifi, livingroomshelfA - you could throw in a dewey decimal
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:10PM (#21660167)
    ...they'll scramble the system if it does not make sense to them.

    We have approx 3000 books in the house as well as two kids. Dewey-ish classification works fine for us, splitting the books into groups according to their Dewey hundreds (0-99.999, 100-1999.999,...). However we have had to break out some special sections. Robots, programming and electronics have a special area together (breaking Dewey boundaries). All the fishing related stuff goes together (including studies of aquatic instects etc). All the craft books go together (well Dewey does that anyway).

    No computer needed.

  • Organise? (Score:5, Funny)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:11PM (#21660187) Journal
    I have boxes of books in the basement, shelves of books upstairs, stacks of books in th edining room, CDs, DVDs, tapes, records, all over the place.

    I solved the problem by ignoring it.

    -mcgrew [slashdot.org]
    • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 )
      I solved the problem by ignoring it.
      I prefer to simply rework my definition of "problem" and also maybe my definition of "success" so that the two may coexist without logical conflict.
  • The same company which currently sell the hand bar code scanner that was mentioned in the article, Microvision, appear to have software just for cataloging books, CDs, DVDs, and anything scannable with a bar code. It didn't state that it could do book organizing in LOC or Dewey Decimal system, but if someone is wanting to do a similar project, to inventory media, it may be something that people could look into.

  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:13PM (#21660219) Homepage Journal

    If the RIAA has their way, making available copyrighted works to people other than the purchaser will be considered copyright infringement. You don't want to get sued by the books publishers, do you?

    Then don't create a library. It's that simple.

  • Pictures?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hansamurai ( 907719 )
    I remember reading your original post and found it intriguing, great to see some feedback after it's all said and done. Anyways, I would love to see some pictures! I skimmed through your write up and found many of it interesting (I'll read it completely tonight) but I would love to see some images of your completed work. Maybe I missed a link or something though.
  • by explosivejared ( 1186049 ) <hagan,jared&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:14PM (#21660251)
    Now you can see an Ask Slashdot question with a definitive answer

    That takes all the fun out of it, especially for legal questions.

    Q: Someone is taking credit for my code. What legal recourse do I have?

    A1: IANAL, but I'm pretty sure you can kill him for that and call it self defense. It totally won't be murder.
    A2: IANAL, but I'm pretty sure you can take his eye for it. Eye for a piece of code or something like that...
    A3: IANAL, but I'm pretty sure you're entitled to their wife and the profits from selling his children into slavery.
    A4: I AM a lawyer, and depending on how you licensed your code ... blah blah (bunch of legalese) blah... and that's what you are legally entitled to do.

    The experience of an ask slashdot is going down the list of answers, plugging and checking. Surviving long enough to use the one by the actual lawyer is so rewarding. I tell you, I want stand for any sort definitive answer to an ask slashdot.
    • by VJ42 ( 860241 ) *

      I tell you, I want stand for any sort definitive answer to an ask slashdot.
      So you want ask slashdot to be definitively undefined?
      • Nah, /. is more like an uninitialized pointer. You expect something to be there, but what you get is sheer insanity.
  • by TBone ( 5692 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:16PM (#21660269) Homepage
    ...you didn't answer any questions about this "wife" artifact you're dealing with while catalogging books. Could you please give us more details?
  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:16PM (#21660271)
    ...of my ex-daughter-in-law, who decided to surprise me for my birthday by reorganizing my (3500) books:

    By height.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deadstick ( 535032 )
      Sorry, Slashdot deleted the less-than sign in front of "3500".
    • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:22PM (#21660387)
      Do you mean "ex-daughter-in-law" or should that say "late daughter-in-law"?
    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      Yeah, I used to organize all of my CDs by color. At first, I did it as a joke, so that when people would try to find one of my CDs I could ask them, "What color is it?" Silly, Yes, but it I found it humorous. Very quickly I realized that I had memorized all of the CD spine colors long before the reorganization. It turned out to be a very efficient way to catalog the CDs, as long as I was the only one looking for them. Of course, now they are all in boxes, stored as backups, in case my hard drive fails.
    • Harvard, naturally, has its own classification system, neither Dewey Decimal nor Library of Congress. (It switched to LC some time ago, but only for new acquisitions, so when I was a student, the collection was in two parts.) The leading theory when I was an undergrad was that the basis for ordering in the Harvard system was height of author.

    • Well, I think I can guess how the 'ex' part came about.

      By the way, are you still married to her mother? ;)

  • by DdJ ( 10790 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:19PM (#21660333) Homepage Journal
    My solution was "marry a librarian". Worked very well for me, you might consider trying it.
  • I stopped using dead-tree books years ago, first I used a Palm III and later I switched to a Sony Clie TH-55. A lot of people are skeptical about e-books, saying it is uncomfortable reading from a screen but my experience is that the exact opposite is true.

    The big advantages of reading e-books:
    • The choice in books is a lot bigger, I prefer reading english books, mostly sci-fi and fantasy. In the Netherlands where I live libraries have a very limited selection of english books and hardly any sci-fi/fantasy.
    • It
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by superwiz ( 655733 )
      There are disadvantages, too though.
      • You don't have a proper appreciation of how much or how little you are reading. Some people might think it's a plus, but other people need to manage their time more carefully.
      • It's not as easy to take notes in e-books. So most books that require deep thought and pondering are out of the question.
      • There are disadvantages, too though.

        * You don't have a proper appreciation of how much or how little you are reading. Some people might think it's a plus, but other people need to manage their time more carefully.
        * It's not as easy to take notes in e-books. So most books that require deep thought and pondering are out of the question.

        Those are disadvantages to your particular e-book reader, not the concept of digital storage and retrieval of texts.


      • You don't have a proper appreciation of how much or how little you are reading. Some people might think it's a plus, but other people need to manage their time more carefully.

        The e-book reader I use (TiBR) shows a little clock in the right bottom of the screen, very convenient for keeping track of time.

        It's not as easy to take notes in e-books. So most books that require deep thought and pondering are out of the question.

        I could just press one button and access the doodle pad or memo application on my PDA,

    • Dead tree format is dead

      Yeah, that's what they all used to say, until Samuel T. Cogley [startrek.com] came along and kicked that computer's ass!

    • by JimDaGeek ( 983925 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @04:08PM (#21661237)
      Electronic books still suck. They are device dependent and most importantly, DRM-encrusted.

      A friend of mine can come over and borrow one of my ~1,500 real books.

      They cannot do that with an e-book. They cannot transfer one of my "e-books" to their reader. I guess publishers want everyone that reads a book to pay? Hmmm. Am I the only one that has ever borrowed a book?

      I personally was never into vampire books until my dad gave me a book of his to read. Guess what, since reading the one borrowed book, I bought about 12 vampire books.

      Lending books without restrictions creates more profit. End of story. My aunt is big on classic works, works in the public domain. After she lent me two books, I paid for copies of several books that I can download free since they are in the public domain.

      I am not trolling, e-books currently suck. The readers are crap, sorry kindle-fans, and the DRM/lock-down is not acceptable to avid readers. When an electronic book comes along that I can lend to a friend without it being tracked, then I might consider it. For now, I still want a physical book. I can lend out a physical book without some book company tracking it or putting a time limit on it.
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:21PM (#21660357) Journal
    That's what I do. And her BS is in Computer Science, so win-win. Except for all the emacs versus vim arguments. Gah! So many years of schooling, and she can't understand that vim is superior?
    • If I had mod points I'd give you one for bringing a vim vs. emacs flame war to a library discussion. Here I was, content to sip coffee and ponder the pure horror of an ungodly 3500 books in someone's house.... when BAM, right in front of me is an editor flame war troll. Thanks for that.

      BTW, what's wrong with emacs? If your (ahem) librarian wants to use ebonics, does it matter? As long as she can bring you the book when you demand it, no big deal.
    • ...Bah, your looking at this the wrong way. I say orginize your own books and data a girl who works at Lululemon (a self-described as a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company). Thats what I do. And while we don't have emacs vs vim arguments, we make much better use of our time.
    • It could be much worse. She could be using MS-Office.
  • I was facing a similar, but somewhat smaller problem (~1600 books) and worked out a solution using delicious monster. First off I segregated my hardcovers and paperbacks info fiction and non-fiction sections, then scanned them all into Delicious Library, a great mac app. It uses a video camera (I used a camcorder with firewire, but you can use a webcam) to scan the barcode, then gets the info on the book from amazon. Obviously the scanning is the most tedious bit, but since I had to remove everything from t
  • Burn them to a DVD.


    Seriously I haven't read a paper book cover to cover since I was 17 or so (10 years ago). Have read many multi-hundred page PDFs though.
  • by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:25PM (#21660455)

    Seriously, what the hell?

    Doesn't everyone here have a hobby or two they spend a fair bit of money on? Perhaps it's your computer gear, maybe it's model airplanes, maybe it's your car or your audio system. Last I checked, an awful lot of geeks had a particular hobby they enjoyed and spent money on, and they don't have to be 'rich bastards' to do so. They just have to value enjoying themselves over... What? Hording money? So this man's hobby is reading and his library, and he enjoys organizing it in a creative way.


    • Plus he spent less that $500 which seems extremely reasonable when reading about the outcome. He could have paid someone many thousands of dollars to do the same thing and then we could call him rich or lazy.
    • I agree completely. I really don't buy books that often, but... they just accumulate over the years. I'm sure I have at least a thousand in various bookcases around the house.
    • Yeah really. I have 3 (computer gear, music gear and cooking - fresh meat and herbs + top of the line cooking gear can get really expensive). I'm extremely lucky that the cooking and music are things that attract my wife so she forgives the expenses (most of the time). If it was 100% computer gear I'd have been single a long time ago :(
    • 3500 books x $10-20 per book = $35,000-70,000, which is more than most of us have ever spent on any given hobby.

      But it could well be that a lot of those books are inherited or received as gifts, or the submitter's job requires a lot of reading, etc.
    • Especially since he only spent $440 on the whole project. Most slashdotters spend more than that on a VIDEO CARD.
    • Why pay $12-$20/book when I can get it used for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 (Goodwill, divide by 2 on half-price-day), $0.25 or $0.10 (Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store)?

      I bought a couple new books back in the day, for titles that I didn't want to wait for. But now I'd rather be surprised at what I find.

      There was one book that had been recommended to me some 2.5 years ago. I almost checked it out of the library this fall, then a couple days later I found a copy at Goodwill for $1.99.
    • To elaborate on the parent comment, they probably haven't spent all that much anyway, especially if they've been collecting books for more than 20 years; even if each book costs about $10 in today's dollars, that's about $1750 per year over 20 years, or about $875 per person per year. The yearly average could be a lot less, depending on how long they've been buying and keeping books, whether they habitually shop used, receive books/bookstore certificates as gifts, steal from the library or friends*, or what
      • Oh, and I forgot to add: cable often costs in excess of $50 a month, or $600 per year; if the couple in the OP prefer reading to celebrity gossip channels, they might simply be allocating the $600/month you spend on G4 TV towards books.
  • sell your books and buy a Kindle.
  • Hi, it was an overall interesting reading with some entertaining bits. I realized that you settled for a closed source sollution for this one. I am sure there must be some Open Source software which you could use to solve your problem (one of the many along Open Bibliographic and cataloging list [sourceforge.net].

    In your article you state that you thought about developing your own application. I think that a better approach would be to look for the Open Source applications that satisfy you AND after choosing one, add the too
  • Not a rich bastard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bogjobber ( 880402 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:30PM (#21660543)

    Someone tagged this rich bastard, but I don't think that's extreme at all. I've kept nearly every book I've ever bought in my life, and I probably have around 800. And I'm only 21 years old (thankfully my parents have an empty garage and I was reading from age 2). Depending on the submitter's age and if he/she is married to another book lover it would be very easy to get to that number.

    This is slashdot, right? As in news for nerds. Do nerds no longer enjoy reading?

    • by joe 155 ( 937621 )
      "Do nerds no longer enjoy reading?"

      Not physical books.
      Joking aside I've also kept every book I've ever had (pretty much) and have less than 50... I don't know how anyone can afford to have thousands, the cheapest book I've got is a second hand copy of Marx's selected works that was £8, if we take an average of just £5 having 800 would cost £4000 - and that's a lot of money by anyone's standards. 3500 would cost £17,500 which really is a lot.
      • by Knara ( 9377 )

        "Do nerds no longer enjoy reading?"
        Not physical books.

        As a friend of mine is fond of exclaiming whenever he gets the chance:


      • How old are you?
        I've been reading for about 22 years give or take and even with about (a conservative) estimated 25% to 30% of my books having been lost to lending without expectation of return I have several hundred books. Enough to require 3 large book cases in my house. I don't consider myself a heavy reader, so I can only imagine someone who is could easily have 3-4 times the number of books that I have. Point being, I'm curious if maybe this is a generational gap we are seeing wherein younger people (
      • by NMerriam ( 15122 )
        I don't know how anyone can afford to have thousands, the cheapest book I've got is a second hand copy of Marx's selected works that was £8, if we take an average of just £5 having 800 would cost £4000 - and that's a lot of money by anyone's standards. 3500 would cost £17,500 which really is a lot.

        It's not a lot when you consider it's two people's books collected over decades. $/£20 per month will get you at least 4 or 5 books if you're frugal and check the clearance and used b
    • by c_forq ( 924234 )
      Of course Nerds enjoy reading, but not on paper! You may have to turn in your card for. Now days you need a Nokia N810, an iPhone, a hacked Nintendo DS, a Bookeen, or a flash memory reader soldered to an LCD (bonus points if you add a speaker and ogg support for audio books). And you don't buy books, you get a scanner and a bash script along with a local library card. And Project Gutenberg.
  • Our system (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tool462 ( 677306 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:35PM (#21660641)
    We are only around 500-600 books right now, so admittedly it's a smaller issue than 3500, but Delicious Library software combined with what the submitter calls "soft alphabetizing" has worked well for us. We split fiction from non-fiction, then split non-fiction into sub categories. My wife and I each have a handful of categories that we are very interested in, so a dozen sub-categories combined with a general non-fiction catch-all makes most books easy to find. In fact, the only reason we use the software catalog is so we can loan out books to friends and family. What's the point of keeping hundreds or thousands of books, if they go unused? People are always borrowing books (and movies) and we don't have to worry about losing them. Or at least we know whose thumbs to break if the books don't come back.
  • and offer them any book in your stacks that they'd like. Then call a local high school and a local college, and do the same.

    You can only read one book in any instant, and only a few "at a time". Why not share the others with people who'd get value from them, especially if the library will allow you to borrow them "back" later? We like the idea of rewarding authors of good works, but really -- given the insane amount of overconsumption the Western World engages in, reducing consumption by reusing items, i
  • As a professional librarian some of the analysis of the classification systems was not correct. First of all when you catalog a material you need to classify the material (classification schemes include LC, Dewey, etc) and select subject headings (the two most popular ones are Sears and LC subject headings). Even though classification and subject headings both have LC categories these are two separate systems and each has there own books and rules. The Dewey Decimal System number is printed in most books
  • Thank you! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fr05t ( 69968 ) on Tuesday December 11, 2007 @03:45PM (#21660809)
    It's nice to see someone actually follow up on an Ask Slashdot question and share the end result.
  • it's an open source library tracking system. due to a recent review [sun.com] where someone had a library of 3k+ books and had problems with alexandria, people on the dev list have been actively addressing some of the reviewer's concerns. of course, they are still looking for help (like any open source project), but it's been an ongoing gnome project for a while. details here [rubyforge.org].
  • 3500 isn't that many. My grandfather, a university professor (and therefore obviously underpaid :-) had about 3000 when they moved back in the early 1950s, and he and his family kept acquiring books for a few more decades. After he retired, he donated the interesting parts of his collection to the university. Most of the filing system was that the current stuff was in his office when he had one, the good stuff was in the library/TV room, old stuff was stacked in the attic and anywhere else available, ki
  • Your decimal system has played right into my hands!
  • Help. I am an Argentine author. I have a home library which is arranged in hexagonal rooms which extend infinitely through space in all directions. The books are all identical and contain exactly the same number of letters, randomly arranged. We've looked at both the Dewey system and the Library of Congress system and unfortunately they both put all the books in exactly the same category. Also the handheld scanners aren't proving very useful, as you have to scan the entire book to distinguish it from any ot
    • by Araneas ( 175181 )
      Mr. Borges, don't bother trying to catalogue them at all. Just take each one off the shelf until you find the book that tells you everything you need to know. Just don't get thrown off the edge of the hexagon for being a heretic.
  • Let me ask a straighforward question to the submitter: Are these ~3500 books actually books you would read again? Or are you simply collecting books for the sake of collecting them (without ever having the intention of re-reading)?

    I solve the problem of organizing my books very easily: Those books that I have read once and will probably never read again I put back into circulation (I either donate them or sell them to Half-Price Books, depending upon my frame of mind at the moment). I cull old IT/techno
  • This should be a homework problem in an early chapter of a good database book.

    A few years ago I wrote up a little text-mode Java program in an hour or two that reads the barcode from a cuecat, and looks up the book using amazon web services. If there's no barcode or ISBN you can punch it in the title, etc. by hand. Then you punch in the condition of the book and where it's located, just a few keystrokes. If you just hit return it defaults to the previous answer to the question. All the data just gets s
  • by abes ( 82351 )
    First, I'd like to point out the post immediately following this is on the missing matter in the universe. Coincidence? Read the book.

    Secondly, I would propose there are likely no great solutions to the problem. There are decent ones, but the difficulty you'll run into is that there will always be multiple satisfactory organization schemes that work. Which means if you really need things to be complete, you'll need duplicates of all your books.

    I had a similar issue when I was in grad school, and was trying
  • Damn, this one deserve recognition, just for mentioning a Cuecat. Anyone else remember that whole thing and the noise here on Slashdot? Heh. Shame on all you IP-hating Cuecat abusers!

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