Cataloging Your Print Library Using Your Mac

Whew! Finally got my DSL hooked up so I can begin blogging again! Sorry for the long wait.

In addition to my wealth of Bible software, I also do own a nice sized print library, which while it has decreased after investing in Bible software, it still exists in my home. And trying to keep track of my printed library can be a hassle. I started off trying to create a hand written catalog of my books, which quickly became way too tiring. My pastor then showed me how to use Microsoft Works to create a searchable database of my resources, but I still felt limited to what I could do. I then tried Excel to create a spreadsheet of resources, export that as an HTML, & load it into WORDsearch in order to search my library that way. But it still had issues…

Finally I found a free application for my Mac that allowed me to easily & powerfully catalog all of my books. It’s called Books, & it works really well! The app has a clean, Mac-friendly interface, it’s Universal, & it runs beautifully on Leopard.

Cataloging books in Books is as easy as typing in the ISBN number (or scanning it with your barcode scanner or webcam) & hitting the enter key on your keyboard. Various quickfill sources allow you to insert data from places such as & the Library of Congress, so in a few easy clicks I was able to have all of my catalog data, covers, & even Library of Congress numbers added right into the catalog. I was quite amazed! For the books that didn’t automatically-insert information, it was very easy to add it into the database.

Books also has very fast search capabilities built on Spotlight, & it even has smart lists that work similar to iTunes & the Finder. My only wish is that more quickfill sources, such as those that contain Dewey decimal numbers, would be added to the program. I know many people use Dewey instead of LOC, but unless you choose LOC for your cataloging, you’ll have to insert all of the Dewey numbers into the database by hand, which could get a little time consuming.

Exporting your books database out of Books is easy. You can easily export your database as a PDF, so it’s easy to email your list of books to anyone, & it’s a snap to print it. I printed a backup copy of my books so that I can easily find them when my computer is not on. I also printed an additional copy of the database, cutout the LOC numbers, then attached them to the books so I wouldn’t have to make hand-written labels of all my books. What a time saver! I may even convert my PDF to an HTML document & publish it on my iDisk so I’ll have an online searchable database of my books, which I’d really enjoy.

Despite it’s few limitations, Books is a really easy to use cataloging app for the Mac, & it has plenty of potential & room left to grow into something even better. And for free, you really can’t beat the deal you’re getting. I’d highly recommend Books to anyone who uses a Mac & needs their library cataloged using a true cataloging app instead of a simple database.

I’ve also attached a copy of an XSL stylesheet that the Books developers custom-built for me that allows me to print off my database using a clean, simple format. Once you download books, first download the PDF Exporter by going to Window>Plugin Manager, selecting the PDF Exporter plugin & clicking on install. Then download my custom stylesheet, & after unzipping the archive, place it in your User Home Folder/Library/Application Support/Books/Plugins/PDF Styles. Then you can enjoy printing & exporting your Books database in a clean & easy to use format.

While we’re on the topic, what’s your favorite way to catalog books? Please leave your comments below! I’d love to hear them!

Nathan Parker