Catalog discussion

The following is the cataloging process for creating our “feed of incoming books.”

Direct Input:

  1. Log into LibraryThing (email the group if you need the account and password)
  2. Click on the Add books tab.
  3. Find the ISBN of the book/media. If there is no ISBN, go to Step 7
  4. Enter it into the “Add to your books” field
  5. Click “Search”
  6. Select the correct book
  7. If there is no ISBN, choose “Add manually” under “Other Options”
  8. Create a record for the book/media


  1. Scan the barcode of the book/media or photograph the ISBN or title page/cover.
  2. Email the group ( a batch of barcodes or photos.
  3. Label the email in Gmail either “BARCODE SCANNER” or “PHOTOS BOOK INTAKE” and archive it.

Processing Barcode Scans:

  1. Select an email to process, label “in PROCESS” in Gmail.
  2. Import the csv files into LibraryThing via the Universal Import page.
  3. Choose to import duplicate ISBNs.
  4. Check any failed ISBNs by entering them one at a time into the Add books page.
  5. After the books are done processing and you’ve checked the failed ISBNs, refresh the page to ensure there are not still other books processing that someone else is entering.
  6. Then, clear your import queue by clicking “clear queue.” Very important!! (otherwise the failed ISBNs stick around)
  7. Label the email “ENTERED in LibraryThing”
  8. Repeat
Processing Photos:
  1. Select an email to process, label “in PROCESS” in Gmail.
  2. Type the ISBN or title into the Add books page.
  3. Repeat

13 responses to “Catalog discussion

  1. I have a CueCat scanner (which works well with LibraryThing) which I’d be willing to donate to this effort if you want it. Leave a reply on this comment letting me know how to get in touch if you’re interested.

    • Michael

      Is that a wireless scanner? We don’t yet have reliable power for our laptops, so wireless would be best. But we’d gladly take it and use it when we can if it’s wired!

      • Hillel

        Unfortunately it’s not wireless; it’s a USB scanner. I’ll try and drop it off at the library tomorrow afternoon, if that’s okay.

  2. Michele

    Hi all,

    I just entered in a bunch of ISBNs that I recorded last night. Fun! Also, I have one periodical that has an ISSN but no ISBN. Have any of you been adding periodicals as single issues in the Library Thing? Advice for doing it, since there is no periodical form on the Add Manually page?


  3. Michael

    In the Gmail account, we’ve got two label categories for books that need to be entered into LibraryThing: “Photos Book Intake” and “Barcode Scanner.” All the items in these categories need to be entered into the Library Thing account. They are also flagged with a label called “To Enter in LibraryThing.” When they are done and have been entered, please change the label to “Entered in LibaryThing.” Also – BEFORE you start working on a batch, mark it as a batch that is already being worked on by labeling it with the “in Process” label. That will prevent us from working on the same batch at the same time… Any additional ideas, processes, post them here!

  4. Briar

    Jeremy from LibraryThing has offered to comp us a free lifetime account. Michael is looking into it. He has been reading more positive reviews about bulk cataloging with a bar code scanner smartphone app, and he has asked Jeremy about this and the relative ease of exporting the catalog later.

    Questions and concerns welcome from all.

  5. Keely

    Have you considered using Librarything? Here’s a link to a blog with an explanation of how to use an iphone to scan the barcodes of books right into librarything, and if the barcode doesn’t work you can use the ISBN.

    Accounts are free up to 200 books, only $10 for a year for unlimited books. Allows for tagging, etc. The librarian in me can’t help but weigh in, if you have any questions ask away. (I’m in Madison, so I can’t help in person)

    • Briar

      LibraryThing was suggested and shot down before there was a WordPress; Michael has ideas for an open source solution, which others have expressed support for.

  6. Briar

    What kind of metadata would this allow for, and how flexible would it be? And will there be a simple, easy way for library staff to manually enter items without barcodes?

  7. Michael

    Ok, first off: F-Droid is a resource for free and open source Android applications:

    The app I had in mind for scanning is this one, an open source Scanner:

    When you use it, the camera on your phone picks up the barcode on the book and looks it up online getting all the info. I imagine there’s something for iPhone like this. So we could use this tool to go through the bins and scan all the books.

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