Online Organization: One More Thing I Need to Do

ShelfariSince it’s summer, I have time to do some things I don’t always get around to during the school year and, while my husband often calls it wasting time, I call it a better way to enjoy a hobby.  One of those many things is organizing my books but not in such a way to invite real labor – that would be work after all.  Unlike Rike, who recently wrote a post titled Storing All those Books, my books aren’t so neatly organized in reality but online it’s a completely different story.

Right now my books are currently living in boxes as the result of a move within the last year.  I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is.  In our old house, my husband obtained some old kitchen cabinets, refinished them, and hung them in a storage room off our garage for my book storage.  Honestly, it was one of the most romantic things he’s ever done for me.  In our new house, I don’t have a space like that yet, but we’ll work something out eventually, though I’m sure I’ll have to provide some incentive.  Yet even when I had my cabinets, I placed books where ever I had room without really organizing them.

Even though they may not have been stored using my best organizational skills, I’ve had an electronic record on my computer of books for a long, long time.  I would list books by author, record a grade, and list the names of the hero and heroine in order to jog my memory.  I would also keep up with the number of books I’d read by month, year, and an overall total.  Then I was introduced to Shelfari through AAR and I’ve been using it ever since.

When I first began using Shelfari it wasn’t at all user friendly, but I’m happy to say that it’s improved greatly in the last two or three years.  Before, it was slow to load, you had to go to a specific place to add a book, and it wasn’t easy to categorize books.    Now, I can add easily, sort by date, rating, review, author, or title, create my own tags, and add in my own edition information.  Plus, I like seeing the covers of the books; that, more than anything, helps me to remember which books I’ve read and whether or not I liked them.  Put simply, I love entering the books and I enjoy looking at the virtual bookshelves.  There’s just something about it that makes me happy.  While maintaining the shelves is something I enjoy, it doesn’t compare to creating the shelf for the first time and I’ve contemplated going to other online sites like or LibraryThing just to recapture that excitement if possible.

Also, I have to add that I’m hoping it will make completing The AAR Top 100 Poll a little easier when the polling begins in October.  In the 2007 poll, I only included thirty-three books when I voted and I’ll be able to include more this time.

What online sites do you use to organize your books?  Do you get excited or am I the only one who gets that giddy feeling when organizing books?

- Heather AAR

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13 Responses to Online Organization: One More Thing I Need to Do

  1. farmwifetwo says:

    18mths ago I was introduced to Goodreads. Seemed rather complicated but I got started…. LOVE it… my fav part… the online TBR list instead of the numerous pieces of paper with books to get jotted down on them around the computer.

  2. JML says:

    I admit to not using any online site yet, it all seems too much like work for a hobby that I love.

    I do have one single book cabinet (that doubles as a couch table) that holds my hardcover collection and my signed books. There is also a pseudo-antique chest of drawers in my living room (that doubles as a lamp table) that holds all my favorite re-reads, regardless of author.

    In those two pieces of furniture I can find my top two hundred favorites.
    The rest of the books are by author, in boxes, in two plastic storage lockers on my sun porch. They’re dry, don’t get any ‘basement’ odor, I know what I have & what I need to complete an author/set.

    It’s not very 21st century but it works for me without being work. I wish I had the desire to do an online organisation, but alas and alack, no. I envy those that do- but it’s not for me.

  3. Katie Mack says:

    At first I was using LibraryThing, but I quickly hit the 200 titles limit, and didn’t want to pay a membership fee for a larger account. Plus, I wanted to track more items and run custom reports — yes, I’m a total geek — so I ended up designing an Access database that I use to track all the books I own and/or have read.

    I track everything from special themes (similar to the Special Title Listings), to setting, series information, grade, date read, etc. I like that I can change/add/delete tracking features whenever I want, unlike online programs.

    It’s weird, but I almost get as much enjoyment out of the database as I do reading. I have fun creating custom reports — e.g. all DIK books set in New York City — and I always get a sense of satisfaction when I can mark a book as “finished.”

    Geez, reading back over what I just wrote and it’s no wonder my family thinks I’m weird. :)

  4. Kara says:

    I use Shelfari online…and also an Excel spreadsheet. I recently purchased a program called Book Collectors and am currently transferring my library into that database…this way I can run custom reports and see what I own and even add my TBR list to it.

    I am still discovering new things with Shelfari that I really like.

  5. Gail says:

    I recently started using Excel just to record how many books I am reading (and re-reading) each year because when it was time to vote on the AAR Poll for 2009 I couldn’t remember who I liked best in each category.

    I usually get bored typing all the data in and go read a book, but I’m going to check out Shelfari today. I think what I really need is Katie Mack to come to my house :)

  6. Elysa says:

    I do not like computers very much – technology makes me feel stupid – so I do all of my organizing manually (besides actually touching and smelling books is fun for me). Also, several circumstances make it unnecessary for me to keep track of my books electronically.

    Before I graduated in May, my books lived in 4 plastic containers and whatever flat surface I could find – which was most of my room. Because I had to travel back and forth between home and college, I had to choose which books went to school with me (I only had room in my truck and ultimately my dorm for 3 of the plastic containers). Inevitably, I came home every semester with more books than I started out with.

    Consequently, I got to know each book through several re-sortings and packings. Also, because space was at a premium and I re-read all the time, I have gotten much better at trading in, giving away, or donating books that I know I will never read again.

    As a graduation present my mom bought me some really nice wall to wall glass-fronted bookcases. For now I still have some space in there – probably not for long though. I keep everything in there sorted alphbetically by author and then in chronological order with single titles and series separated from each other. Thankfully, once I read just about anything, it remains in my head forever so I do not really need a computer program to help me keep track of what I read, like and have a desire to buy.

    Katie Mack –
    If it makes you feel any better, my mom made fun of me for a week because she came home from work one night and saw me sitting on my bed just staring at the magnificence of my bookshelf after I had finally put them together an got my books organized in them. And I agree with Gail, if I ever decide to do a tech upgrade in organization I’m inviting you over.

  7. Victoria S says:

    I recently found Shelfari and fell in love. I am soooooooo computer illerate, and even I find it easy to use. One of my favorite features is the “Series”. So I know if I’m missing any book in any given series.

    Kara: that Book Collectors program sounds like fun. I may have to look into that.

  8. LeeB. says:

    I track the books I read on spreadsheets, which comes in very handy when filling out the AAR annual poll.

    And I do have books I’ve read on Shelfari, but just the ones I really liked. It is nice to see the covers.

  9. Katie Mack says:

    LOL, Gail and Elysa

  10. marcella says:

    I’ve had my books listed in a spreadsheet for years, but since discovering Shelfari 2-3 years ago, I’ve been adding less and less data to the spreadsheet. I just love Shelfari, it’s almost as addictive as collecting & reading books.

  11. Kara says:

    Victoria…it is really easy to use…it downloads all the info on the book (even the cover). Then it gives you the ability to alter the info, add your own, add tags, comments, notes, etc.

  12. KristieJ says:

    I have an account at LibraryThing, Shelfari and Goodreads as well as an excel spreadsheet I’ve have for over ten years now. For information gathering, nothing beats the excel spreadsheet. As for the online sites, LibraryThing is my favourite.

  13. Gale says:

    Hi Katie Mack you are not alone. I’m still tracking data in Excel, but like you I continually add new categories or data items I want to track. I love filtering the data on several criteria such as DIKs, ratings, series, periods, etc. Like you I get a lot of enjoyment from managing the data. My latest effort (and I’ll agree I’m probably a little weird, too) is I did a physical inventory of just over 4,000 books (yep, I’m also packrat) adding a condition rating for each. This turned into a great opportunity for sorting and organizing – which is still a work-in-process. My husband keeps suggesting I convert to MS Access, but my Access skills don’t compete with the flexibility of Excel.

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