Upon remolding the library at our school. I was faced with a unique challenge. Many books that came from an organization (books for Africa) were out of order and had no manifesto detailing anything..
What we had basically was a pile of unorganized books and a mountain of paperwork to get them organized!

 The challenge was to input those books into a library system. But typing in the data of hundreds of books would take a lot of time and effort.

What solution I pitched to solve this issue?

I went for one of my favorite sites (Goodreads) for help. What I pitched for the librarian was the following:
  1. Create a Goodreads account for the school.
  2. Use the bar code scan feature to scan the codes from the books into the account. This would save a lot of time when compared to entering the books manually.
  3. Organize the books in shelves. The site allows you to create many shelves to organize your collection. Mark the book as a book you own.
  4. Use the search features for the books that don’t have a bar code or for those who got the bar code scratched off. You should be able to find it after writing a word or two.

What benefits does this system bring?

  1. This would save time versus having to enter every book by hand. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Since these books are out there you can use the pr-existing database of Goodreads to track your own.
  2. In the rare case of a book not having a bar code and not existing on the site. It can be entered manually. Which would reduce the work and add to Goodreads‘ global library of books.
  3. Using the export feature the book log can be downloaded offline, and that log would be the foundation of a library management system. Complete with borrow and return functions. (I haven’t got there yet).
  4. Students can create accounts and follow the school’s account on Goodreads or add it as a friend, then use that to track their online reading and meet objectives. This way the library can actually turn into a social community. Where students and teachers could discuss books, ask questions. Participate in challenges. All while making the librarian’s life a little bit easier.

Final words

 In hindsight, buying crates of books shouldn’t have been done without a list. And dumping the box contents on top of each other to create one big mess is never a good idea.
In spite of all that. I’m glad I was able to come up with a solution on the fly for this problem.

What would you do if you were in my place? Do you have a better solution to organize random library books? Please let me know in the comments section below.