Tag Archives: catalog

Cataloging Our Library in Zotero

Before starting my home cataloging project I really only used Zotero to grab individual items, this was my first time trying to look-up large numbers of items at once. I am happy to report that I came up with a work flow that let me run through about fifty books every ten minutes.

I found that the quickest way to pick up my books was throw in a few keywords from each book title, and if necessary a author’s last name into the Library of Congress’s basic keyword search. Most of these searches will then jump directly to the individual item record pages where you can grab the bibliographic record, including all the subject headings, call number, and other relevant info, with a single click.

To make sure the data looked good I kept Zotero part way open and switched out the fields shown in the middle column to show only the call number and the title, and to sort by the date added. With that configuration each new item I added ends up at the bottom of the list and each of the relevant pieces of information is right there for me to check. You can see what that looks like below.

So far I have pulled in about 350 of our books into my Zotero library, once you get the workflow going it moves pretty quickly. In short order I should have a digital copy of our entire library. In the next post I will explain how to get these items out of my collection as print ready labels.

Using Zotero as a Personal Library Catalog

Note: Not actualy my books image credit to Kristin Brenemen

My wife and I have a lot of books, tons of books. So many books that I am sometimes surprised to find books I didn’t even know we had. Over the years I have tried to organize them in ways that make sense to me. This approach has failed utterly and completely. I have now resolved to organize our library using the Library of Congress Classification system and I think I have the technology to make this relatively easy.

Below are the four steps I see to making this work. I have done some experiments and I am pretty confident that this will work. I intend to make detailed posts about each stage. So if anyone out their is as big a book dork I should leave detailed enough instructions for you to follow along.

How am I going to do this?

First I need to capture the bibliographic information for our books from the Library of Congress catalog into my Zotero collection. Since I already have about 100 of our books in my collection this should be relatively easy.

Then I need to export the Names and Call Numbers of all those books from Zotero. I should be able by hacking a simple custom bibliographic style. With any luck it won’t take long.

After that I will take that tab delimited file and use a mail merge to print the title’s and call numbers of my books onto address labels that I picked up at Target.

Why would I want to do this?

You might be thinking, why are you using Zotero for this? If all I wanted to do was organize my books by their LCCN’s I could just look them up and paste the call numbers into a Word document.

While this would be a way to go, doing this inside Zotero gives me the added benefit of having a really amazing iTunes like interface to find my books. I am also excited to see what the weighted tag cloud of all the subject headings for my books looks like.

One might also ask why not use something like Delicious library or Librarything? First, I’m cheap. Both of these services cost money where Zotero is free. Furthermore the various programs created to organize one’s local collections of books are set up do do just that and only that. There are some big plans for Zotero to do a whole lot more and I think it will be neat to have my entire collection of books in my Zotero library as those new features role out.

Edit: I meant to say LC clasification system, not LCSH.