Organising my collection of books using open source software

Moving some books around at home I decided I really needed to have a list or some sort of rudimentary database… maybe a project for mysql. But then I thought, hand on a minute, this must be a common problem, there are probably several open source programs to do this…

A brief search and I had a list of contenders by searching the web… something like this but not quite.

Software like gcstar and tellico are relatively light weight programs specialised for collection management… more advanced software for running a library with many borrowers is also available in the form of open source library management packages. A list of many useful programs for library management of various sizes is available here: . In contrast the collection management programs allow easy customisation, as well as templates for managing your collections of films, books, articles, music, guitar pedals (link to video) etc.

I opted to try gcstar and tellico, both being available in the repositories of the linux version I use (debian GNU/linux it’s the official linux distribution of the free software foundation). First up was gcstar, I installed from debian repositories and then performed update with ‘gcstar -u’ this downloaded updates to /usr/local which seemed to work, I hit a problem when trying to add the first book. There seemed to be no where to enter isbn for search, and trying to retrieved information for the first book just carried on searching without getting back any information.

gcstar failing to work for me
gcstar failing to work for me

Next up was tellico which worked. This was a really useful program for searching for details of my books. It can search various databases for details of each book, including the library of congress which is useful for some older books. I now have the majority of my academic books stored in a .tc file which can be exported to various formats (XML, gcstar, HTML, csv, etc). Both of these applications are designed for managing generic collections, so the fields can be customised to suit the needs of your collection (whatever it is), there are features to record lending of items, or price, etc.

Using Tellico to search collection (left) and search online databases for book details (right)
Using Tellico

I was really happy to find the tellico project, it met my needs at least as far as creating an index of my books, it usually takes less than a minute to add the details of each new book to the list, with most of the time spent trying to find where the ISBN is printed if it’s available.

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