I have been reading "old" Q & A's and came upon a section about physical card catalogs.  (This Q & A was from 2010!)  My question is:  our small church library is not automated.  Would you advise keeping the card catalog?  I don't think anyone uses it except the two workers who actually create and file the cards.  And it does take a lot of work...which I don't mind if it is used.

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I certainly agree with you that it takes a lot of work to maintain a card catalog, especially if you have several subject headings and have to make a card for each one plus the author and title cards.  I am so relieved that we no long keep a card catalog.  In searching for automated software that our small library could afford, I found that there was not any that would fit our budget.  But what I did discover was LibraryThing, which is an online service to help people catalog their books easily and keep a record of what the library has on its shelves. I signed us up about 14-15 years ago and it only cost $25.00 for a lifetime membership.  As I added our books to our online file, I destroyed the catalog cards for that book.  Each book has its own page where you list author, title, subjects, DD number, cost, date purchased, publisher and date published, comments, private comments, book summary, cover picture, and much more.  You don't have to fill in everything -- only what you want a record of.

Your congregation can access the online catalog from home via their computer, or if they are actually in your library they can access by their smart phone.  They will only be able to browse the books in the library on the online site, but will not be able to make any kind of change, deletion, or addition, as only you will have the password.  We have a direct link on our church website that will take one to our library.  But if you don't have a website, you can always include your LibraryThing web site in your weekly church bulletin.  Here is a link to read about LibraryThing:  https://www.librarything.com/about

Also I have included a link to our church library:  http://www.librarything.com/catalog/WVBC

One other thing I do to make it easier to find non-fiction books is to place labels on the book shelves above each row of books, such as:  231 God, 232 Jesus Christ, 234 Salvation and Grace, 242 Devotions, 248 Christian Life, 266 Missions, just to name a few.

I appreciate your suggestions, Ann, and the links you provided.  I also use the shelf labels you suggested because I think they do help with locating non-fiction books. As for The Library Thing, I'm not sure this would even be productive for us.  We have so few patrons (if I may use that term) and, most of them are only interested in the fiction books we shelve. Sad, isn't it?  Thanks again.  I always enjoy your comments.

Just a few words about automation.  If your library has a computer and internet available, using LT is almost cost free and will cut the time to add new items. Use the time saved to transfer the existing items to LT.  Then you can get rid of the (explictive deleted) card file.  I'm not sure about LT but most systems make it easy to transfer to a different system.

If you are using a computer, getting a barcode reader ($20-30 at Amazon) is useful to scan the ISBN with an aim & click.

No, we do not have a library computer.  Everything is done by hand in our library.  Thanks for your suggestions.

Wonderful information, Ann ---- again!

What if? 

Mary, what if you'd utilize Librarything as your catalogue? Possibly, you could print out lists as you add or delete items. Those with internet access could then see your listings in Librarything -- Ann can respond to this. Then use bookcards or signing out library items like you still do. 

I'm inclined to think you'd save a lot of time, save space in your library, keep track of other information besides what is usually listed in the card catalogue, be able to search for library items in multiple ways, online community .... and so on.

FYI: Our library does use an online system with all our library items barcoded, and yet we provide optional ways to loan for Children's & Junior books which include bookcards. The librarian or a team member needs to then enter the loan information into our online system & then place the bookcard into the alphabetized index card. Before we were setup by computer tech people at our church, I seriously considered Librarything -- I may want to use it someday for my personal library at home. 

Thanks for your suggestions.  I will certainly give thought to this idea.

We have been using LibraryThing for years now too, and I love it.  Like any program it has its bugs, but overall we've been very, very happy with how easy it is to use, the price, and the customer service.

When we first began using it, we bought an inexpensive Chromebook (they run around 200.00).  It served our purposes very well.

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