If you want to keep good tabs on the books you have at home and search through them, home library tools will come in handy. When you look around at various online tools, you’ll find that systems can recommend books that you’ll probably like because other people with similar reading tastes like them too.
What good is something like this?
There are many reasons to acquire a tool for organizing your home library. The first motivating factor is when a person “inherits” a library from their parents or grandparents and wants to make sense of it. We need to know what’s in it and where, for ourselves or the rest of the household. If the libraries are small, then you won’t usually need any special tool; however, something like this is good for larger libraries that are “completely yours”.
The second motivating factor is using e-books. Contrary to paper books, these don’t take up any space, and they make it easier to look up what we’ve already read. Digital books offer very interesting functions (nice annotations, bookmarks, note taking, copying, full text searches, etc.) that are either unavailable or hard to access in normal libraries, and it would be a shame not to make use of them.
The final group of reasons can be an attempt to archive what we’ve read and also the effort to find recommendations for content that is relevant in some regard - for example, something that someone else with a similar taste in reading has enjoyed. These platforms, which serve as a record of what you’ve read, also offer many interesting functions, like the option to read book reviews or evaluations, or working with lists on what you’d like to read in the future or reading milestones. It’s up to you what you decide to make use of.
When you scan through discussion forums, you’ll find many bits of advice on what tools you should use to manage your home library. Microsoft Access, which is a part of MS Office for work with databases, forms an interesting category. In it, you can create a given structure in which you want to manage your books. This is a solution similar to working with tables in Google Documents. This method works too, but if you don’t feel like brushing up on your database skills (which might be a relevant reason for some), a solution like this doesn’t make much sense.
In regard to classic tools for managing your home library, an example is bookTome, which works with various collections and lists of what a person has read or is reading. It works well with English language books because it can download records of a book from Amazon, which is very convenient compared to editing by hand. All My Books offers a nice, well-arranged interface that has a lot of functions, but unfortunately costs money to use.
Perhaps the best classic environment is Libib – it offers up to 50,000 books for free and you can create multiple libraries, work with statistics, or use the mobile app for both reading and scanning bar codes, which can help a lot when working with newer books. If you’re into being systematic and want to create an online catalogue for your home library (which you can also share), this is the ideal solution.
If you’re more attracted to a tool for recording books you’ve already read, creating a reading list plan or content recommendations, a good choice is the Czech project Databáze knih or the international Goodreads, which we recommend. The latter also adds an interesting social element to reading and offers many extra functions. If you want to know what you’re getting while selecting a book, these two services will definitely come in handy.
For electronic books, probably the best library is Calibre – it can read almost any format (it is hands down the best at converting formats, can handle DRM, etc.), is available for free on multiple platforms, and offers many advanced functions and a nice integrated book reader. If you want to manage traditional books as well, this is also possible, even though Calibre is not primarily focused on this.
The final group of tools that we shouldn’t forget are classic library systems like the Koha open source tool. But, if you’re not expecting people to borrow books from you in big numbers, we don’t highly recommend such tools, as managing them is overly complex and demanding.