DIY Library Cataloging

I’m a nerd.  There’s no other way to put it.  Not only do I love to read, but I love books– physical books.  I’m also a cataloger of things.  I have a slight obsession with making lists and keeping track of assets and collections.  One of my favorite reference books is called Registration Methods for the Small Museum if that tells you anything.

When IntelliScanner came out with the IntelliScanner Mini, I couldn’t wait to purchase it.  Their software allowed me to catalog all of the items in our home and create lists by room and reports on value.  Plus let’s face it, scanning bar codes on things is very satisfying.  Sometimes I just walk around the house scanning bar codes to hear the little beep.  But when people find out that I have a database of all of the items in our home, their first question is usually, “What is the value in doing that?”

I love doing it for the sake of collecting data, which sadly I find fulfilling, but from a practical standpoint, the main value in tracking all of your assets in such an organized manner is having a complete detailed list of those assets and their values for your homeowner’s insurance.   You can even purchase a roll of barcode asset tags which for me made it easier to catalog items that didn’t have bar codes, like furniture, unboxed toys, and art.  Also with IntelliScanner the media organization software that comes with the package makes it easy to search your book and DVD collection to see if you own a particular title.

While I didn’t go as far as to keep a grocery inventory, the package does come with grocery inventory software and wine collection software as well.

Image Sourced from IntelliScanner

One of the features that I thought was great about the IntelliScanner software was that you can keep track of books that you loan to friends.  I love sharing my books, but I do have trouble getting books back sometimes, and I often forget to whom I’ve loaned them.

More recently, we’ve been trying to come up with a way to share our books with guests of McNemar House as well as build a McNemar House membership program.  While still in its infancy, the membership program got underway this weekend when I started adding books to a new lending software program.  Unfortunately I pushed IntelliScanner to its limit.  I wanted to be able to associate a bar code on a membership card with a person, and with Intelliscanner only the name of the person to which you are lending the book can be added.  There isn’t even a place to store that person’s contact info which is impractical for lending to folks we may have just met at a show.

Immediately I went to IntelliScanner’s Business website in hopes of finding a more robust lending system.  They have one alright… the Daneizo system… but it’s $1,999! Wowzers!  I’m certain that it’s great for small libraries and businesses, but I just couldn’t justify the cost for our very small project that wouldn’t be bringing in any money, so I started searching for alternatives.

Image Sourced from IntelliScanner

Within ten minutes I’d found this great service called Lend-Items, and there are SOOOOOO many wonderful things about it.  First there’s the price.  It’s based on the size of your collection which I thought was great because our library lands on the low-end of the pricing spectrum.  Instead of a one-time purchase like IntelliScanner, there is a monthly subscription fee, but again, it’s based on the size of the collection, and it’s very affordable.

Screenshot From Lend-Items

One useful feature of Lend-Items is the user database where you can enter a user and their contact information and also assign a bar code to the person which makes it fast and easy when he/she has a membership card in-hand.

Books like  users can also have a bar code assigned to them if they don’t already have one that works, but another awesome feature is that Lend-Items pulls book information from most ISBN bar codes on the back of the books.  This makes adding most books quick and easy with one scan and one click to add.

Lend-Items is also great from a borrower’s perspective.  Borrowers can easily search your items to see what is available.  When they borrow items, Lend-Items sends an email with the list of items and their due dates.  It’s incredibly seamless.

Needless to say, I was immediately sold on Lend-Items for our particular application.  So I had the new platform, but I also needed a couple of other things to make the lending process smooth.  Unfortunately I had to purchase a new scanner.  Intelliscanner’s scanner ended up being proprietary to the extent that every time I scanned a bar code, the Intelliscanner software would automatically open instead of inserting the scan into the text box that was selected.  I was a bit disappointed in this, but luckily a new barcode scanner is cheap on Amazon.  With the platform, the scanner, and the digital asset tags to use for membership cards and books that didn’t have a bar code, we were set on the digital-side of things.

Photo by H.McNemar

We also needed book card pockets, book cards, and membership cards.  I had a box of adhesive card pockets I’d purchased a couple years ago on Amazon, so all I had to order for the books this round was the book cards which I also sourced from Amazon.  Now technically since Lend-Items sends email reminders and tracks everything digitally, I didn’t have to add book card pockets in the books, but it gave me a place to put the McNemar House stamp to show where the book came from and also a place to stamp the due date as a physical borrower reminder.

Photo by H.McNemar

After much research I decided that the cheapest way to create membership cards for now would be to stick the asset tags I already had onto McNemar House business cards then laminate them, so I ordered a cheap Amazon Basics laminatorand some card-sized laminating pockets, and I was all set to make affordable small batch membership cards.

Photo by H.McNemar

This past weekend all of the pieces I needed to complete the project were delivered, so I spent every spare second I had on Saturday and Sunday cataloging our library.  So far I’ve cataloged about 30% of our collection, so I’ve still got a ways to go, but it’s so much fun… if you like that sort of thing, and I do!  I’ve been in cataloging heaven!

Want to organize your own collection?  It can be books, DVDs, or anything you can get a bar code label to stick to.  Here’s how I did it!

You’ll Need:


USB Automatic Barcode Scanner Scanning Barcode Bar-code Reader with Hands Free Adjustable Stand (Black)

IntelliScanner Asset Tags – Pre-Printed Barcode Labels (pack of 100)

Amazon Basics Thermal Laminator

Clear Laminating Pouches, 5mm, 2-1/4″ x 3-3/4″, 100/box,UNV84642 (2 pack)

Business Cards or Card Stock Cut to 3.5″ x 2″

Library Card Pockets (Optional)

Library Due Date Cards (Optional)

Custom Stamp (Optional)

Software Program to Type and Print Library Due Date Cards/ I Used Photoshop (Optional)

How To Catalog Your Library:

I highly recommend cataloging a shelf of books or a stack of books at a time.  My shelves aren’t very long, so I just grab one shelf’s worth of books, stack them beside my computer and get started.

  1. Create a template for the library due date cards.  This step can be skipped if you’d rather fill in the cards by hand or if you plan on skipping the library card pockets and cards completely.
    1. Measure the distance vertically and horizontally to the lines you’d like to type on each card. 
    2. Adjust the margins or place text boxes in these locations on the properly sized paper.
  2. I used a custom stamp which I ordered from Vistaprint to stamp the McNemar House logo on the library card pockets.  Before cataloging a stack of books, prepare a stack of library card pockets by adding your stamp if you so choose.  The stamp I used was 1.5″x3″.
  3. With a stack of books to the right of your computer, your scanner hooked up to the left, a flat surface with a stack of library card pockets to the left of your computer station, a stack of library due date cards in your printer, and Lend-Items and Photoshop open, grab your first book.  In Photoshop, type the information you want to print on the card, and print.  When you’ve completed this task, move the book to your left onto the flat surface area where you plan to apply the card pockets, and do the same for the entire stack of books, stacking each book on top of the last as you go.  Don’t remove the cards from the printer until you’ve finished printing the cards for the entire stack of books you’re working on.  This will ensure they are in the right order when you go to put them in the books.

    Photo by H.McNemar
  4. Once you’ve printed all the due date cards, remove them from the printer and bring them over to your stack of books and library card pockets.  Grab a library card pocket and adhere it to the inside of the first book.  I place my pockets on the back cover unless there is a dust jacket or writing on the back cover.  In these instances I place them on the first blank page in the back of the book.  I had a couple of books with no blank pages in the back.  For these books I placed the pockets on the inside front cover or the first blank page in the front.
  5. Place the correct library due date card inside the pocket.  Then stack the book in it’s original starting position to the right of your computer.  Complete this process of adding the pockets and cards to each book in the stack until all books are stacked to the right of your computer.

    Photo by H.McNemar
  6. You’re now ready to start scanning.  Bring up Lend-Items, and go to the Manage Items section.  Click on “Add New Item”.  Next click in the ISBN box to bring up the flashing cursor.  You’re ready to scan.  Scan the bar code on the first book.
    1. If the bar code works, all you have to do is then click add item, and you can move on to the next book.
    2. If the bar code doesn’t work, there may be a bar code on the inside of the front cover that works.  If not, add an asset tag to your book so you can still track it with a scan.  Then click in the bar code box and scan the bar code.  At this point you can still try to manually enter the ISBN number (which if the book has one can be found in the first couple pages of the book with the Library of Congress info) to see if it will bring up the book info.  If that doesn’t work you’ll have to enter the info manually.  This was fairly rare for me and mostly occurred with older books that either didn’t have a bar code at all or didn’t have an assigned ISBN.

      Screenshot from Lend-Items
  7. Continue scanning all of your books until you’ve completed the stack, and there you have it!  You’ve cataloged your first shelf of books.

How to Make a Membership Card and Create a New User:

  1. I lucked out when it came to making membership cards.  There was room on our business cards to add an asset tag.  Simply add an asset tag to a business card or same sized card stock.
  2. Heat up laminator.
  3. Place card in laminating sheet.
  4. Run card through laminator, and you’ve got a membership card.
    Photo by H.McNemar

    Photo by H.McNemar
  5. To create a new user, bring up Lend-Items.  Go to “Manage Users”.
  6. Select “New User”.

    Screenshot from Lend-Items
  7. Enter user’s information.
  8. Click in the bar code box, and scan the membership card that will be associated with this user.
  9. Click “Save User”.

How to Lend a Book or Other Item:

  1. Bring up Lend-Item and select “Lend Items” to the left side of the screen.

    Screenshot from Lend-Items
  2. By default the box for the user membership info should be open.  Scan the membership card.
  3. A new screen with “Lending To “Username”” will open.  Scan the book to lend.

    Screenshot from Lend-Items
  4. Once scanned and added to the list, select “Confirm Lending Now” to the right side of the screen.
  5. The item has now been successfully loaned in the system, and Lend-Items will send an email to the user with the due date of the item.

Whether you’re cataloging your items in a business environment or you just want to keep track of a small book or DVD collection, Lend-Items really is a great way to do it, and creating your own little membership cards is a ton of fun and adds a personal touch to your collection system.  Also don’t forget about IntelliScanner if you need a great system to create a home inventory list for your home owner’s insurance policy!  It’s still my go-to application for tracking assets that aren’t intended to be loaned.

Photo by Callie Lindsey

We’re incredibly excited to roll out these old-school library cards to our customers here at McNemar House.  The cards will eventually become all-around membership cards with other added benefits, but even just being able to borrow a book from our library is fun if you ask me.  What good are all these books anyway if we can’t share them with others?  Once all the books are cataloged, we’re going to add a book drop-box outside the house so folks can return books anytime day or night, and then the we’ll be ready to go live with our most recent project!  I couldn’t be more excited to be organized and be able to share more with our community!  Nerding out for the win!