I have a digital library and I need a simple database tool to search among my .pdf printouts.

My problem is this: I have books, book chapters, dissertations and research papers. So, those are four categories. Moreover, I have four different topics that I conduct research on. That is another four categories.

If I try to use the file system, there will clearly be duplicates.

What I want is to be able to filter/search the materials I have with respect to their type and area, without dealing with duplicates.

I use Windows 10, but occasionally, I may use it on Ubuntu. Thus, cross-platform would be a great thing to have, but mainly I'm looking for Windows.

  • On what OS must it run? Would a self-hosted web-app work? I'm using my self-written miniCalOPe for that, but e.g. Calibre (cross platform tool) could serve the very same task – see e.g. Book library application // Literature (PDF) management for institutes // Cross-platform ebook collection // PDF library management and viewer
    – Izzy
    Jan 14, 2018 at 11:34
  • @Izzy that looks great! Does it have any dependency?
    – padawan
    Jan 14, 2018 at 13:05
  • It runs on Python. But on its download page you'll get a package containing all that's needed (except for the Linux version, where it expects you've installed Python via the distri's repo). If you're on Linux (you've mentioned Ubuntu), it even ships in the standard repos – though the versions shipping there usually aren't the latest ones. As long as you don't want to search the contents of the PDF files, it should perfectly fit your needs. If you agree, I'd make this a more detailed answer.
    – Izzy
    Jan 14, 2018 at 13:18
  • @Izzy please do add this as an answer
    – padawan
    Jan 15, 2018 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


It seems Calibre perfectly matches your needs:

  • supports PDF (but also many other formats, e.g. ePub)
  • supports categories. Though intended for "book categories" like SciFi, Medicine etc., this can be "abused" for other things as well.
  • supports tags. IIRC, categories and tags are used synonymously (I don't use Calibre to manage my collections (for that I use my own miniCalOPe) but rather as backend to create ePub books)
  • supports other fields like author, publisher and more – next to the title of course.
  • ships with a GUI to manage, edit and present your collection. This even includes a document viewer – and an integrated web server, if you need it.
  • of course you can search for your documents, or filter them by author, category etc.
  • no duplicates just because a book falls into multiple categories. The category is a "property" of the book
  • cross-platform application: Calibre runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. Find the corresponding installers/instructions on their download page.

For further details and screenshots, please also compare Calibre-answers to similar questions:

As already mentioned, I'm using Calibre for years (though for different purposes) and am very happy with it. It is well maintained.


I was looking for the exact same thing, and last week I found Open Paperless. I haven't used it much yet, but it seems to be exactly what I need so far.

It is a Python application built on top of Mayan EDMS, which is designed for enterprise document storage. Open Paperless is designed to provide a simpler interface to Mayan EDMS which is more user friendly for the "average user".

It was primarily designed to run on Linux, not Windows, but you could run it in a virtual machine pretty easily.


You prefer to learn a new software instead of "wasting" a few megabytes on your harddrive by having duplicate files? Would not be my way to go. Just duplicate the files by copying them. If those are really big files create symbolic links. Done.

  • 1
    Learning a new software is not a challenge for me. Besides, it ia not about space. I'll be wasting more time while loking for something.
    – padawan
    Jan 14, 2018 at 10:55

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