Here’s a fast and satisfying way to organize...

Here’s a fast and satisfying way to organize your books

Try a free app that will keep your home library as organized as, well, a library.

books on a shelf in a home library with plant

Photo by Lum3n from Pexels

I love books. Some of my earliest memories are of snuggling close to my mother while she read me her favorite stories. Then, there were the times I sat on the floor in the kitchen and read to her while she cooked. I’d stumble on a word; she’d tell me to spell it. My five-year-old self is still amazed at her ability to get the word right every single time—without even seeing it on the page! Books offer me information, entertainment and comfort. When there’s no pandemic, I’m known to spend a Thursday after work in a bar with bourbon and a book. All that’s to say, I have a lot of books. The exact number I currently own is 603.

I know that number because I catalogued them all in an app called Libib. I highly recommend it.

Libib is a website and app that lets users catalog their own books, movies, music and video games. I started using it a few years ago when I almost bought a third copy of James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time.” A few months after that, I was looking for a reference book I lent to a friend — but couldn’t remember which friend I let borrow it! It’s the disorganization for me. So, I used the app to get it together.

My favorite parts about Libib:

  • Users can create multiple libraries.
  • It takes less than a second to scan a book’s barcode and add it to your library, with cover art and details — just like a public library record.
  • The database is searchable.

A book record in Libib.

You can make the database more searchable by adding tags and groups to a record, writing down notes about the book, adding the price you paid for it or the price it will cost to replace it if it’s lost, and tracking your reading status (not begun, in progress, abandoned or completed). You can add reviews and ratings as well.

For some books, there’s a link to purchase it if you’re like me and decided to create a “Books to Buy or Borrow” library. (The downside there is Libib sends users to Amazon rather than a site like Bookshop.org, which splits proceeds from sales with independent booksellers across the nation.)

All of these features are in the free version that I use. For a monthly or annual fee, you can add an easy lending system. Since my home isn’t an actual library, I just make a note in the book record if I let someone borrow one of my books.

The app lets you see an overview of your library stats.

For what it’s worth, if you own even more books than I do, the simple thought of cataloguing them may exhaust you. But the absolute sell for this app is its built-in scanner. You can catalog a book as quickly as you can point your phone’s camera to the scanner code on its back. For some books without barcodes — like older or used titles, artist books or chapbooks — it will take a little more work to manually add the info.

Still, about three weeks ago, I scanned all 150 titles on one of my shelves to figure out which ones I hadn’t properly added to my library — Libib tells you if a book you’ve scanned is already in your library and allows you to reject or add copies. The whole process took about 20 minutes. 

Libib is available for iOS and Android devices with desktop platform included. Free up to 5,000 titles or $9 per month/ $99 per year for larger collections and features like lending and adding books by Library of Congress number.

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Courtney Wise Randolph is a native Detroiter with a heart for people and their stories. A WDET Storymakers Fellow, she also writes for nonprofits and individuals through her small business Keen Composition.