I love quilt books! I collect them, read them, and refer back to them often. Over the past 23 years of quilting, I have accumulated a large library! It became obvious to me the books needed to be better organized; I couldn’t always remember if I owned a book and acquired duplicates (more than I care to admit).
First, I started an Excel spreadsheet – a manageable, albeit tedious, process. Then, I overheard someone say they used their smartphone as a barcode scanner to catalog their novels on their computer. Aha! To simplify my task (and convince my teenage son that a smartphone was not completely wasted on his mother), I started my search for a barcode scanner app and a library cataloging website. Based on a web search and friends’ recommendations, I chose to use goodreads.com.
The following summarizes my experience cataloging my quilt book library. Please keep in mind I am using an iPhone with a Goodreads iPhone app (the process could vary with other applications), hitting the highlights (details available on goodreads.com), and pushing the limits of my technical savvy (not an expert!).
Set up an account for free membership on goodreads.com.
Download the appropriate app for your iPhone/iPad or Android smartphone by searching your app store or Google for "Goodreads app".
The first step is to scan a book's barcode. Select each of the steps by touching the phone screen.
Goodreads app icon > My Books > Barcode Scanner > Scan > Done
Hold the screen over the barcode of the book until the scanned number shows up on the bottom. In a moment, the image of the book cover and the title should appear at the top. If it is too dark, a light is included in the app to illuminate the barcode. Select Done when barcode is scanned successfully.
To catalog a book, select the scanned book and put it on a virtual shelf. When you select a shelf for the book from your different categories, a check mark will appear.
Scanned Books (select book) > My Review (scroll down) > Bookshelves (select one or more shelf) > Submit
If the book goes in a new category for which you don't have a shelf:
New Shelf (type in new shelf name) > Select + sign (to add new shelf to list) > Select the new shelf (to add book to shelf) > Submit.
The book will now appear on your account at goodreads.com under My Books - both under the total Read file and the Shelf file.
Your Quilt Library
Once you scan the barcode and submit the book to a shelf (done on your smartphone or iPad), it goes immediately to your computer! For each shelf, there is a list of books with several columns of information. You can customize book lists by going to:
Controls (at top of screen) > Shelf Settings > Save Settings
A table appears which allows you to select the columns visibile on the book lists. My choices are: cover, title, author, shelves, and date added. Under the Sort menu, I select Sort by Author, Ascending (lists books alphabetically by author). Save your changes.
Under My Books on goodreads.com, there is a Read list of all of the books you have scanned or entered manually. I have mine listed alphabetically by author. This is helpful because, even if I have books by a specific author scattered on different shelves, I have a master list of all the books I own by that author. The lists of books by topic are available on my computer and my phone. I have also printed my virtual shelf lists and placed them in a binder.
The real, physcial bookshelves in my office are labeled by category, with the books organized alphabetically by author within each topic. If a books fits in multiple categories, I highlight the category, on the hard copy book list, to show where I have actually placed the book on my bookshelves so I can find it easily. Clear label sheets work well for labeling the shelves.
One neat feature is the Cloud option. This image of my Cloud shows all my shelves with a graph representing the percentage of books I have in that category. The size of the text at the top correlates with the number of books I have on that shelf; the larger the font size, the more books. You can see the shelves I have chosen. Yours will vary because it is a personal filing system.
Scanner Can’t Identify the Book
The scanner may not be able to access the book’s information if the barcode is partly covered or damaged, the book is not in the Goodreads files (they have over 300 million titles), the book is too old to have a current ISBN or is from a small publisher. You can find many books by typing the ISBN, title or author on the search area on goodreads.com; sometimes you have to try all three. If you still can’t find the book to place in your shelves, you can follow the Goodreads Librarian Manual to enter the book manually. I only bothered to do this twice because of the time and effort involved and the books were either craft booklet format (stapled not bound) or very old. Since I placed a printed list of my books in a binder, I chose to copy the front cover of the books not cataloged and put them in the binder by category.
Book Wish List
If you see an interesting book at a quilt store, you can scan the barcode and see reviews by others and/or save the book in your To Read files for future reference. If you are not sure you have the book, you can check My Books on your phone or computer. Since I am also an avid reader of general fiction and nonfiction books, I scan barcodes of books at stores so I can look for them later in the library or for future purchase. The Goodreads emails are a great source of interesting new books.
Cataloging my quilt books was fun and worthwhile! Now that the majority of books are cataloged, it is easy to add a new book when I get one. My next adventure will be cataloging all my interior design and fiction books. Oh my!
Maybe some of you will decide to organize your books (or already have) and share your experiences!