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100 Tips and Tools for Managing Your Personal Library | PhD American History Online

100 Tips and Tools for Managing Your Personal Library

For many book lovers and students, it’s hard to resist adding new volumes to a personal library, especially if they’re at a bargain. But with every growing stacks of books, there comes a need to organize and store your books so that you can find a book you’d like to reread, protect your collection from harmful elements, and even make sure you have a record of your literary investments for insurance purposes. These resources and tips can help you get a head start on everything from deciding what to buy to organizing what you already have so that you can enjoy your books for years to come.


Use these tips to start getting your personal library in order and easily accessible.

  1. Figure out what you have. It’s hard to know what you want to get rid or or what you’d like to add if you don’t know what you have. Take some time to invoice your books so you don’t accidentally get duplicates because you didn’t remember you already bought a particular book.
  2. Decide what you want. Once you know what you have you can establish what books you’d like to add to your personal library. There are numerous tools online that can help you create a wish list, but Amazon provides a particular easy way to do so.
  3. Establish a budget. Sometimes when books are on sale or seem to be a particularly good bargain you’ll pick up dozens because it seems like a good deal. You may get some new reads but you might end up spending more than you want to if you do this regularly. Establish a book budget for new purchases and stick to it when shopping.
  4. Invest in storage. If you own a lot of books, it’s important to make sure that you can enjoy them and that they’re in a space that won’t lead to them getting damaged by water or bugs. Invest in some good quality shelves from a store or build them yourself.
  5. Get organized. While you might love the look of chaos, it certainly won’t make your life any easier when you’re trying to find a book to use for a paper or read on a flight. There are a myriad of ways to organize your books from the color of their bindings to the date they were written, so figure out what works best for you and rearrange accordingly.
  6. Monitor what you lend. While it can be a good feeling to lend out books from your personal library, it often results in you never seeing those titles again. Use a computer program or a ledger system to keep track of what you’ve loaned and who needs to get it back to you.
  7. Eliminate books you don’t need. Chances are good that even the most well-kept personal library has a few books that are duplicates or just not particularly useful. Donate or sell the books you have that you don’t want or need. You’ll free up space for new books and maybe even earn money towards new titles as well.
  8. Find out where to get bargains. Buying new books and creating a personal library doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Find out where books are available for cheap in your area, whether at used book stores or even your local thrift store.
  9. Be picky. Not every book will make a good addition to your personal library and even if you get a stack for free it doesn’t mean you should keep them. Be picky about what comes in to make sure you create a well-rounded and high-quality library.
  10. Create a system. No matter what system you decide to use, whether you organize by size, topic or author, make sure you stick to it when you add new books. This will make it easy to find books that you need and keep everything neat and tidy.

Web Tools

These online tools offer a great way to manage the titles of the books you own or want to own.

  1. Library Elf: If you’re the type that likes to audition book before you purchase them then this can be a great tool for keeping track of the library books you have checked out, letting you know where you’ve loaned them from and when they’re due back.
  2. Library Thing: Library thing makes it easy to catalog your books online. You can create a free account that allows you to enter 200 books or pay a small fee to enter as many as you’d like. There are also features on the site that allow you to connect with others who have similar tastes in reading material.
  3. Zotero: While Zotero is predominantly a tool for researching, it can also be used to catalog your personal library. Using Amazon or another online book reseller you can easily record important information about the books you own using the citation and bookmarking features of this tool.
  4. GuruLib: This site is created especially to help you organize and catalog your home library. Create a profile and start creating lists of your personal books, movies music and more.
  5. ShelfCentered: Check out this site to create a virtual bookshelf. You can load it up with your favorite books, movies or games and even create a wish list for the new things you want to add.
  6. Need a place to catalog your media collection, from books to DVDs? This site is a great all-in-one solution, making it easy to keep track of what you own.
  7. Bibliophil: Use this site to create a customized online library of the materials that are in your real-life library. Once your books are in there you can search by author, title, date read and more and get access to features like wish lists, recommendations and book loans.
  8. Nurse Practitioner Programs: Whether you just want to keep track of what health library technology exists, or you want recommendations about the best iphone apps for librarians, this blog is a good place to look.
  9. YourMediaLibrary: If you use Amazon to shop for new books why not use it to store information about what books you already own? This site keeps track of your purchases through Amazon and allows you to add new titles as well.


Many of these applications are freeware or shareware, allowing you to keep detailed records of your personal library on your computer.

  1. Personal Library Manager: At only $5, this program is a cheap and easy way for Windows users to track their personal library. Enter titles, authors, ISBNs, condition and more and use filters to make it easy to search through your holdings.
  2. Manage Your Books: Check out this Windows program for an easy way to track your personal library. Enter in the titles you know and you can easily track what you’ve loaned, create reports and search your books.
  3. Alex Personal Library Manager: For those with a library on the small side this can be a useful tool, with search capabilities, simple interface and topic browsing.
  4. eLibrary: If you’ve got books stacked on every possible surface, this tool can help you manage them. Simply enter the ISBN of your book and the program will download the relevant information from the Web, making it easy and quick for you.
  5. MyBooks: For only $10 you can enjoy this shareware program that can help you maintain a database of up to 32,000 books.
  6. Complete Home Library: This thorough application makes it possible to keep track of multiple libraries and manage all of your important collection records in one place.
  7. Book Bin 3.0: Formerly called BookMate, this program works on multiple platforms and can help you manage your library, keep a reading journal and even search your books through a card catalog.
  8. Bookjerk: You don’t have be a book miser or even a grump to use this tool, designed to help you keep track of the contents of your numerous bookshelves.
  9. Media Library 3.1: If you want to monitor what you have lent out to others as well as your personal collection, this program can be a helpful and versatile tool.
  10. iLibrary 1.2: This program uses an iTunes-like interface to help you keep track of all your favorite books, movies and more.
  11. Librarian Pro 1.3.5: Be your own librarian with this helpful software for Macs. Users can create smart collections, monitor lent out items, and even export the data to your iPod.
  12. Biblio 1.0.1: For $25 you can download this tool for Macs which makes tracking, recording and organizing your books easy and pain-free.
  13. BookCat: Collectors of books will enjoy this program which allows easy cataloging of even the largest collections of books. You can even change the data entry fields to reflect information that you want to keep track of for each book.
  14. Delicious Monster: Take recording your book and media collections to the next level with this program. It allows you, through the use of a webcam, to simply scan the barcode and save the entry in your account, making it simple to enter and keep information about your personal library.
  15. AVCataloger: This program uses the format of Microsoft Outlook to help you enter and store data related to your media. The program is designed for use for not only books but music, movies and software as well.

Social Networking for Books

These sites can be great places to not only record what books you have but to get suggestions for new purchases from others and talk with other book lovers and academics in your field.

  1. Shelfari: This blog has both Facebook and MySpace apps that can let you share your recent reads or all-time favorites with your friends online.
  2. GoodReads: List your personal reading on this site and keep track of what your friends are paging through lately as well.
  3. AllConsuming: Check out this site to create an online catalog of your personal library of books, movies or even meals and get helpful suggestions from others who share your tastes.
  4. Anobii: Once you’ve added some of your personal library selections to this site you can start meeting people who have similar tastes to your own and get great recommendations.
  5. Listal: Listal provides a easy-to-use space to list your favorite music, books and games and even get recommendations and meet new friends based on your reading preferences.
  6. Douban: This simple site lets you catalog and rate your books and music, provides recommendations, hosts reviews, and helps you find others with similar likes and dislikes.
  7. Reader2: Make your personal library a little more social through this site. You’ll find new friends, organize your titles and much more.
  8. BooksWellRead: This site is a great place for those who want to take and save notes about the books they’ve read, whether for personal reference or for research projects.
  9. ChainReading: Think you might be addicted to reading? This site can be a great place to manage that addiction. You can let others know what you’re reading and recommend it as well as get recommendations for yourself.
  10. BookTribes: Create a profile for you and your favorite reads on this site and you can meet others who share your taste in books and might have something to offer you in the way of finding new books to read.
  11. ConnectViaBooks: Use this site to create a list of books you’ve read and what you’ve thought of them. Once you’ve done that you can meet and talk to others who like the same authors or titles.


Give these articles a read to learn some helpful tips and suggestions about how to effectively manage a personal library.

  1. Managing Your Book Collection in Ubuntu with Alexandria: Linux nerds can use the information in this article to help them better manage their personal libraries.
  2. My Personal Library and the Semantic Web: Learn how you can use Web 2.0 products to document your book collection in this article.
  3. How to Organize a Personal Library: Need some pointers on getting your library organized? This article can be a great starting point for purging, cleaning and systemizing.
  4. Building a World Class Library with Free Web Resources: In this age of technology, books aren’t always in that familiar paper-bound form, some are digital as well. This article gives suggestions on how you can make the most of free digital resources to find and store information.
  5. A 30,000 Volume Window on the World: The author of this article for the NY Times shares his personal library, all 30,000 volumes of it, and his thoughts on book ownership.
  6. How to Organize Your Personal Library with the Dewey Decimal System: Want to organize your home library just like a real library? This site will tell you how to do it simply and easily.
  7. Building a Personal Library: Check out this article for tips on building your perfect personal library.
  8. Personal Development Library Tips: Blogger Steve Pavlina gives his two cents on how to make your home library more productive.
  9. Organizing a Home Library: Get a step-by-step guide on getting your bookshelves into shape with this article.
  10. Safe Book Placement for Home Library: Don’t get injured by falling books or ill-advised bookshelf decisions. This video shows you the right way to organize your books.
  11. Keeping Your Personal Library Well Stacked: While the lazy part of you might be content with your stacks of books, the logical part of you knows if they are organized they’ll be easier to find and use. This article can help you get started with that organization process.
  12. Organize Your Collection of Books: This article from Oprah’s website will help you determine not only what to put in your library but how to organize it, and even your reasons for wanting a personal library.
  13. Starting Your Own Personal Library: Those who are just starting out on getting together a great personal library will appreciate this forum from Library Thing. You’ll get all kinds of suggestions and advice for building a great home library.
  14. Building a Personal Library for Your Children: If you have kids, you know how important it is to instill a love of reading in them from an early age. This site will give you advice on how to build a great personal library for the littlest readers in your home.

Books to Add

Looking to add a few new volumes to your personal collection? These sites can give you some suggestions on some of the best reads out there.

  1. Building a Personal Finance Library: If you want to learn more about how to manage your finances, the books listed on this site are a great place to start.
  2. 77 Best Business Books: Build you business education through adding these great books to your personal library.
  3. 30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Their 30th Birthday: Those looking for influential and life-changing reads should visit this site for suggestions on new books.
  4. The Modern Library: 100 Best Novels: This well-respected list can be a great place to find suggestions for building an awesome and comprehensive home library.
  5. 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the Century: If fiction isn’t your cup of tea, then check out this list of must-have non-fiction.
  6. 110 Best Books: The Perfect Library: Want to create a home library that’s full of good reads and will make you look particularly smart, check out these list of suggestions to add to your shelves.
  7. 25 Essential Books for the Well-Read Explorer: For travelers who want to know a little bit about the places they’ve been, these books can be a great addition to any bookshelf.
  8. 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library: If you’re more of the manly, intellectual type then this list may be for you. It contains everything you need to build the ideal masculine library.
  9. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: This extensive list gives suggestions of the best books by decade so you can find something from any time period that adds to your personal collection.
  10. 40 Most Important Books: If you want to read books that have made a big impact on the world, then give this list a look. You may find something that can change your life as well.

Making Space

Part of having a great personal library isn’t just the books themselves but the place that you store them as well. These resources can help you get some ideas for storing your books in a creative and accessible way.

  1. Library Designs: Here you can find ideas on furnishings, designs, and technologies you can use in your home library.
  2. Library Essentials: This site provides loads of helpful tips and ideas on choosing furniture and designing a great at-home library.
  3. Your Shelves: Visitors to this blog can send in photos of their personal bookshelves or get inspiration from others who’ve shared designs of their personal libraries.
  4. This company sells everything you’ll need to protect, care for and store your books.
  5. How to Build a Cheap Home Library: If you’re on a serious budget, get some tips from this site on how to create a cool home library without spending a fortune.
  6. Creative Ways to Create an In-Home Library: Make your library somewhere you want to be by getting creative. This site provides some neat ideas for arranging and creating built-ins for your home.
  7. Extreme How-to: Build a Home Library: Want to go the DIY route? Here you’ll find instructions on building some nice shelves for your personal library.
  8. 20 Unusually Brilliant Bookcase and Bookshelf Designs: Get ideas on how to jazz up your personal library by checking out these interesting and unusual bookcase designs.
  9. Storing Books in Small Spaces: Have a tiny apartment or home? This article can give you some pointers on how to make the most of the space you have for book storage.
  10. How to Install Built-In Bookshelves In Your Home: If you’re interested in creating some long term storage solutions for your books, give this article a read.

Book Shopping

If you’re ready to buy some new books to read, these sites can be great places to find the best deals on new and used books.

  1. BooksPrice: Give this site a try to search for and compare prices on books both new and old from the major online retailers.
  2. BookBurro: Ensure that you’re getting the best deal on the book you’re buying by using this comparison site.
  3. BookFinder: The more money you save on buying books the more you’ll have to make future purchases. This site can be a big help by allowing you to compare prices from several major sites.
  4. ISBN Spy: If you know exactly what book you want to buy, simply enter the ISBN number to this site and get results on the cheapest place to purchase it.
  5. BookSense: For those who’d like to avoid giving money to the big online retailers, this site is a collection of independent booksellers.
  6. AbeBooks: Whether you’re looking to buy new or save some money on used, this site is a savvy place to comparison shop.
  7. Alibris: This site not only provides best sellers and used books but can be a great place to buy those hard-to-find out of print novels.
  8. Paperback Swap: If you’ve spent some time purging your bookshelves of books you no longer need, you can trade them for new titles on this book swap site.
  9. BookCrossing: For those who want a little adventure in their book giving and getting, this site is a good resource. Simply use the book plates provided and leave your already read book around town for others to find.
  10. Bookins: Trade out your old, unwanted books for new, more intriguing titles on this swapping site.

Book Labeling and Care

Make sure your books stay safe and secure with some advice from these sites. You’ll get tips on storage and care as well as some attractive and unique labels you can put on your books to prevent them from getting lost for good.

  1. Personal Library Kit: Get a head start on having all the materials you need to lend out books with this kit. You’ll get labels, a date stamp, and cards to let borrowers know when their titles are due.
  2. My Home Library: This site is full of creative book labels as well as tips and suggestions for managing a personal library.
  3. Care, Handling and Storage of Books: The Library of Congress provides this helpful guide on taking care of books and making sure they stay in good shape when you’re storing or reading them.
  4. Book Care for Bibliophiles: Love your books? Then take good care of them with the advice provided in this article.
  5. How to Store Books: If you’ve been storing your books in a hodgepodge or cramming them into a bookshelf them check out this article which will tell you how to properly store your books.
  6. Bookbinding and the Care of Books: If you’re a book collector then this site might be of interest to you in managing the care of your valuable books.
  7. Caring for Your Treasures: The library at Stanford provides this helpful guide for keeping environmental conditions, shelving and storage right for books.
  8. How to Store Books, Magazines and Media: If you’re looking to make a little more room amidst your books and magazines this site gives some good tips for safely storing all your valuable media.
  9. Label Your Books With Dewey Numbers: Go the ultimate nerdy route by labeling your books with Dewey Decimal numbers. This site will show you how it’s done.
  10. How to Care for Your Books: Ensure your books last as long as you do with the care instructions provided by this article.
  11. Bookplate Ink: Check out this site for personalized bookplates for your favorite volumes.

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