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I intend to start cataloguing my private library (approx. 200-300 books) as long as it is still relatively small; what I don't want is to end up with a proprietary file or database format that ties me to a single app or vendor. I'm indifferent towards whether my library catalogue remains purely private or forms part of a world-wide federated catalogue. I imagine there must be some FOSS or open initiative for bibliophiles (like there is for geo data with OpenStreetMap).

My search so far turned up OCLC/WorldCat (but I haven't figured out yet if they only catalogue public libraries, or also encourage private book collectors to contribute)

Is there some established / incumbent solution for cataloguing a private library (for people who favour the FOSS idea)?

Clarification: This question is concerned with physical books - not eBooks. Many of the books are antiquarian, predating the introduction of ISBN.

I'm looking for a solution completely free of charge. The catalogue software platform can be either an Android device, or a modern web browser, or a Windows 10 desktop.

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  • Welcome to Software Recommendations! Are we talking about "paper books" here – or eBooks like EPUB or PDF? And where should that catalog be managed: on a Linux machine, an Android smartphone, or something else? And as FOSS doesn't automatically mean "free of charge", what price would be acceptable if the "installables" require it? Can you please edit your post to include those details?
    – Izzy
    Oct 17, 2023 at 16:15

4 Answers 4

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Calibre for ebooks, it's free and runs on Windows, OSX and Linux https://calibre-ebook.com/

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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Oct 17, 2023 at 17:26
  • Unfortunately Calibre expects to load eBooks so is not suitable in this case. Oct 22, 2023 at 23:46
  • @SteveBarnes, agreed, the answer addresses initial title of the item where no physical books were mentioned. Also, the answer mentions ebooks, so, it will help future users.
    – coz
    Oct 23, 2023 at 7:55
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I would suggest installing the Free & Open Source LibreOffice and using the Base database from it.

This will allow you to create a database for your library using the HSQLDB Embedded database. You will need the appropriate Java Runtime Environment installed JRE Create DB 1 enter image description here

The Database Table Wizard _(Tables->Use Wizard to Create Table) even has a Personal Library entry with a good selection of fields. enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here I would suggest fields including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Title
  • Author(s)
  • Publisher
  • Edition
  • Original Date
  • Edition Date
  • Default Location

You may also wish to have fields for On Loan To, Since, etc.

Once you have selected your fields you can create forms to simplify data entry.

Note that your data will be stored in ODB format which is a part of the OpenDocument specification which is widely supported. The data can be exported to a number of other formats.

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A couple of options to consider:

  • Jelu - it is open source, enables import/export to csv, etc.

  • Badreads - an android app, opensource, can also import/export.

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Invenio ILS from CERN but it requires certain knowledge to be deployed.

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