My goal this summer is to get our library (at least the nonfiction) cataloged in some way that we can give our congregation access to it via the church website. We don't necessarily want it interactive at this point (a static record would be fine), just something that they can look up titles, subjects, or authors on, and that we can do the same from our library laptop. We'd also like to be able to add our own patron reviews.


Eventually we'd like to automate our circulation as well, but that can wait for the time being. It could even be two different systems, since our collection is small and we are very limited in adding more (physical) books, DVDs, etc. due to space issues.


Is it possible to do this (catalog collection & get online) with password protection from the website (i.e. they'd need to be registered with us to view the catalog) for under $500 or that plus automated circ for under $1000? Does anyone have practical experience with such a program?





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We use ResourceMate, as well. if i remember correctly, the base program (3.0 Plus version) was about $350 and the web access feature was another $95. that would get you the features you want now plus a great many more for under $500. so far, it has done everything i need it to do and then some. i know lots of people here use Concourse, but i have no idea what that costs. Good luck! Even for a small library, automating things makes such a huge difference. Blessings.
Karen, I am interested in ResourceMate, so I went to your library's web site. I notice that you show publisher, but not a publication date. Is that because of RM or is that your choice in entering or viewing options?
Thank you so much for your input so far. I hope others will continue to add their exeriences as well. As I mentioned to Barb, we strongly considered Library Thing but our collection will eventually exceed their maximum, and there were other considerations for us as well. We also approached our church board with ResourceMate, but the tech people evaluated it and said no; I also know of another church that uses it successfully in the library, but has not be able to get it to work through the Internet due, I think, to compatability issues. Cross system did not do what we wanted. I found a program called Library Express (from the UK) which we might go with, but it has a very awkward to use circ system for the number of users we have (we have about 300+ patrons currently registered, since we register by the whole household), and eventually we do want to automate our circulation. Since our library is only open on Sundays, it would be hard to justify spending more than $100 a year on automation subscription fees to maintain the system, after spending up to our budget of $1000 for an automation system, so that eliminates some of the "big" names. If we were open several days a week and/or were also used by a church school, that would be reasonable, but that's not in the forseeable future. I am interested in learning more about Open Source systems. Can anyone explain that to us?
I'm not sure of the term Open Source, but here is a program that is almost free. Athenaeum Light 7 by SumWare Consulting may be downloaded for $45.00. ( It is really a basic library automation program that does most things except print spine labels. It will print barcode labels and various reports. It also does circulation. I come from a school library background, so I had no trouble figuring out how to enter the items and operate the program. A novice might have a little trouble, I'm not sure. A manual is available and I have contacted technical support a couple times and they were very helpful. I've been able to do my spine labels by finding a template and typing them manually and printing them out on blank spine label sheets ordered from a library supply company. This is a way of automating our library (about 2000 items) with little cost, but quite a bit of work. The problem is that there is no easy way to get the collection on the web. I think it is possible with Athenaeum LIght 7 if one has FileMaker Pro database software (very expensive). So I have entered my books into LibraryThing, manually again, but by having Athenaeum LIght 7 open side by side with LibraryThing, I can add most items by just typing in the ISBN numbers. (This means, of course, that I have 2 sets of records to keep up--one with Athenaeum and one with LibraryThing) Even though LibraryThing on the web is searchable, it is not ideal. So, I think the moral of my story is this. Think ahead to what you might want in a few years. If web access is important, you might want to pay more and get what you need at the beginning. If extra work is not a problem, the "cheap" ways might work.
Barbara Allen

Open Source systems are freely licensed (software license), but never actually "free". I've been an open source developer and advocate for years and currently manage a handful of open source projects for work and for my personal web projects.

  • Open Source software is free. You don't pay a licensing fee. Think Creative Commons or Public Domain, but for software.
  • But someone has to "host" and maintain that open source software on a server that supports open source. This sort of server support is beyond what I think most church IT folks can/will commit to for  their church library (particularly since they don't really "get" library cataloging software needs to begin with). And I can't imagine a church library having its own in-house server and someone with server expertise.
  • Someone has to configure, customize, and install the open source software. That means someone has to understand how to work with PHP, MySql or PostGres databases, as well as PHP scripting, and HTML markup and CSS. 
  • Someone has to support the ongoing maintenance of the open source software. That means daily backups, knowing how to recover from a database backup (because you database WILL crash at some point), upgrade the core code when the open source developer community pushes out updates, and troubleshoot any code conflicts during those updates.

While many churches run an open source content management system (CMS) or blog, such as Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal, they rarely have the intense server and coding resources it takes to maintain an open source library catalog/ILS.

I have build and supported enough open source projects to know that a self-hosted (in-house servers & managed) open source ILS/OPAC is something I definitely will NOT recommend to my church library. Because I'm the one who'd most likely have to support it, and I just don't have that much volunteer time or energy (I do it all day at work).

Koha is the biggest most robust and professional open source ILS/OPAC. Evergreen is another that's been around longer.  I *am* looking into hosted packages using Koha (hosted/supported by a vendor), but not an in-houe supported version of the free open source software (for the above reasons).

Many people get excited about open source being "free", but they don't realize how much work and time (and often money, in terms of expertise and support) it takes to maintain an open source project for the long haul. Free is never free.

I have begun to add my library collection on a website called "" for as little as $25 you get a lifetime membership, I have put a link on our church's web/library page so if patrons want to see what we have they are able to. As I process new items I am also adding them to the web site and as I have time I am adding media by shelf to get our collection on line. I found this do be a cost effective though time consuming alternative to what my library program supply would charge. Feel free to check out this link. You may have to copy and paste.
Does anyone use the program advertised here on the site, Our Library

I'm pretty intrigued, but it would be great to hear from someone who already uses it.
We use Concourse, and it complements Concourse, which is a bonus from my perspective.

OK, I see I'm about 3 years late to this discussion, but no one answered Deanna's question at the time. So here goes...  [WARNING: The company I work for sells OurLibraryOnline, so I might have a bias.]

My church,  Wedgwood Baptist (link to library and catalog), uses OurLibaryOnline for our collection of just under 10,000 items.

We use PC Card Catalog for our automation and OurLibraryOnline integrates very handily with it. The OurLibraryOnline screen is sparse, but the search capability is as handly as any I've seen. It REALLY inexpensive and works with other popular church library software.

We purchased the WebOPAC module with our Concourse software. It provides a very easy to use and comprehensive catalog with searches by author, title, keyword, and/or subject. I don't have any problem with the catalog being available to anyone accessing the church's website. Here's the link: Gene
Thanks for sharing Gene, it was interesting "surfing" through your catalog holdings. I've never come across the term mediagraphy before. If I understand this correctly it is to create a printable list - is that accurate?

Does the WebOPAC provide a way to require a password for the catalog access if desired?
Yes, that's how the Mediagraphy works...When searching for items, the user can check the box on the left, add the item to the Mediagraphy, do additional searches, then finally print the selected lists. I find this very useful when doing research on a particular topic.
So this is basically what we "old timers" would call a bibliography! But of course, not limited to just books any more! Great feature!



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