I need the help of someone who has done this...  I started  and have continued to manage a sizable church library that is now 50 years old.  It is organized with standard library procedures.   I have a (now outdated) library degree.  It is time to go the computer route and I have no idea how to go about doing that or what modern procedures it makes sense for a library of our size and usage to adopt and what would be more of a hindrance than a help.  Has anyone done this?  I would love to chat with you!!

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When I helped take over our church library, it had been there for almost that same length of time, and although there was a card catalog, it was no longer used.  The previous librarian used some kind of on-line system which we didn't like very much so we ditched it and started over.  After trying another system we didn't like, we settled on librarything.com.  We kept the Dewey cataloging system, with sections for non-fiction (both adult and YA and kids'), fiction (ditto),  and biographies (ditto).  For picture books, we use the JE designation that my public library uses.

I found librarything to be very usable (and inexpensive).  As with most things, there is a learning curve, and I'm sure I've only begun to scratch the surface, but for our needs and our library (around 10,000 items) it works very well.  Also, if I have a problem, I send an email and their response time is generally pretty quick, and about 95% of the time they are able to help me with my problem.  I have been very pleased with this site.


I'm happy to talk more about this with you, either here or via email.  

THANK YOU!!  You sound like exactly the person I need to talk to.  I'll chat for awhile on here, then probably email would be more usable.  I imagine a LOT of libraries are in exactly this same situation, so perhaps our conversation will give others some direction.  Where are you located?  I'm in Lapeer, MI--about 20 miles from Flint.  Would you mind sharing the two software systems that had been used and not worked well for you?  Privately, if you don't want to share brand names publically...  You are organized pretty much like we are--seeking to be identical to the public library, so the same user skills are employed.  I have no idea how many "items" we have.  I'd guess less than 10,000 because I keep it weeded out pretty well because the space is defined and I made the decision that the library needs to fit the space, rather than seek room to spread out.  So, right now, the collection is pretty tight, having been sorted out recently.  We have books, DVD's mainly.  magazines, booklets, pamphlets, etc, audio books, teaching visuals video and audio study series--we have, not used much.  AV equipment also filters through the library--Projectors--DVD, VHS, overheads, screens, etc.

I see that you are from Schoolcraft.  Amazing!!  The place I still consider "home" is Jones, MI.  I'll bet you know where that is.  You have to be somewhat "local" to have even heard of Jones!

I confess I had to look it up but when I did - yes, I know where Jones is!  My son-in-law is from Edwardsburg.

Our church is in Portage, just north of Schoolcraft.

I'm vaguely familiar with Lapeer, in fact we drove by it yesterday - my parents, sister, brother etc. live in Ontario and we come across from Port Huron when we visit them.

I honestly don't remember the names of the two systems we tried and didn't like...oh, wait - the second one was called Readerware.  But I really don't remember the first one.

We have audiobooks and some CD's that are stories or dramas, like Adventures in Odyssey or Down Gilead Lane, that kind of thing.  We also have DVD's, both adult and kids'.  But we don't do magazines or booklets or pamphlets - we don't even like small books and got rid of a bunch of them (you know, those little devotionals that are the type you often get as gifts at graduation...).  We also have an area that is specifically Bible Study Resources (mostly Bible STudy books of the type you write in, like Wiersbe, MacArthur, etc), and Adult Christian Ed resources for our SS teachers to peruse.  Our "new" Christian Ed pastor asked us to start this area and it has been very helpful for him and the teachers (well, some of them).

Our space is pretty limited too and so we have to constantly be more creative about how to use the space we have, or start weeding!  We've just about hit that point yet.

Do you have any specific questions I can answer?  Have you had a chance to look at LibraryThing?  You can start by opening an account and add up to 200 books for free.  I first tested it by opening an account for myself and putting in some of my own books.  Then I played with it, trying to figure out how it worked, and liked it well enough that I then opened an account for the church library (and kept my own account!).

Whew!  I found our previous conversation.  I will be close to your church on the weekend of July 28-30.  Is there any chance I could stop by and talk to you personally, look at your library and have you show me how your software functions?  I'll also be in that area for a high school reunion on August 21, I think.  That would work too.

My email is djanthony@mindspring.com.  It really would be easier to communicate that way, if you don't mind.  Are you on Facebook?

Jean, I had to computerize our church library after I came on as librarian.  I use Concourse from Book Systems and like it.  As for getting items from the cards to the software, I just had to type them in.  I do now have EZCat, a companion to Concourse that allows for z39.50 connections and downloading of records into Concourse.  

If you would like to chat more, my email is computa.cat55@gmail.com

Sorry, I just saw your reply.  How do you check books out now?



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