Is there any kind of system (web or desktop) that allows managing a small library? Users that search for available books, then register taking them out and returning them, admins that add new books as they are bought, etc.?

I'm thinking of an app in a school/university/company that lets users take a book off a bookshelf and instead of asking someone else to register that they have taken the book, they would log in to the system and do that themselves.

Desired features:

  • It should be a website, or otherwise use Windows
  • Open source, or free, or free to try (EDIT: if it's paid, I need to be able to see an online demo)
  • Should handle up to 10000 users
  • Ability to search for books that discuss a particular topic

Nice to haves:

  • Users suggest books to buy, and based on these requests, the admin can buy those books that were demanded the most
  • Users can comment on books that they have read
  • A web search doesn't provide much for free options it seems.
    – James
    Mar 25 '14 at 13:27
  • @James, as long I can see an online demo then you can it post it as answer. I'll edit my post to mention this. Mar 25 '14 at 14:36


Desired features:

  • It should be a website, or otherwise use Windows: Sort of. It runs on a linux server, but hosts a website for its GUI that can be used from any computer
  • Open source, or free, or free to try: Open Source and Free as in Beer
  • Should handle up to 10000 users Yes,
  • Ability to search for books that discuss a particular topic Yes, I'm not sure if it actually links into systems that automatically fill in topic/keyword fields, but iof those fields are filled then it works.

I'm not certain as to how well it fits your nice to have feature list. (I've only had a little experience with it).

It does support barcode readers, and multiple simultaneous clients. It also supports search without having to log in. (So people can search from home, without having to get out there library card/membership details.)

It is however quiet a complex piece of software to setup and configure.

  • Is there any online demo of this software? Mar 25 '14 at 5:19
  • I'm not sure. I can show you our site in it: library.unisfa.asn.au/cgi-bin/koha/… but that only gets you a guess view. idk if anyone maintains any kind of version you can just mess around with, that has a public password. Mar 25 '14 at 10:39
  • @LyndonWhite As of this writing, your link no longer seems to resolve...might you please share an update (?)
    – iokevins
    Feb 6 '17 at 20:54
  • 1
    @iokevins: sure, library.unisfa.ucc.asn.au Feb 7 '17 at 0:55
  • 1
    As requested above an online demo for the Open Source ILS Koha is at the community version site: koha-community.org and the demos are currently at: koha-community.org/demo with several types of libraries to select including demo logins. May 26 '17 at 3:44

I have developed on Fedora Commons for a national library that holds 14 million books.

  • It has FedoraShare, a web interface for managing/viewing objects. There is also a Windows/Mac/Linux/Java UI. To adapt to your needs you might want to consider third-party UIs or develop your own, though.
  • Open Source
  • 10000 users and many many more
  • Search is extremely powerful. It integrates with international metadata repositories so that you don't have to input metadata yourself, just enter the ISBN or similar.
  • "Users suggest books to buy": Not aware of such a feature.
  • "Users can comment on books that they have read": Yes if they have modification rights, but it might not be a mainstream use case.

It is an object repository, so managing books is only one of its use cases.

Being more a platform to build on than a turnkey package, the learning curve is a bit steep and some effort is needed to find the bricks that suit you. Don't hesitate to install it and see for yourself, though, it is easy to install.

In the age of library digitization, I would say Fedora Commons is one of the most future-proof solutions.

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