Friday, September 26, 2014

Cataloging My Collection

This summer I decided to catalog my collection.  I cataloged 4,485 books, which are most of my series books.  I did not do all of my books.  I wasn't concerned about getting everything cataloged.  I hadn't kept up my written records well for around 10 years, and I wanted to get a database that was more current.  I also wanted to get photographic documentation of my most important books and have the prices I paid for all of my books in an online database in case of loss.  It's not helpful when one's records are in the same place as one's books.  In the event of a loss, both the books and the records would disappear.

Here are the series for which I own the most books.

Nancy Drew - 2,368
Trixie Belden - 281
Judy Bolton - 221
Dana Girls - 199
Three Investigators - 135
Hardy Boys - 111

I discovered that at least two books are missing, and I cannot account for what happened to them.  The first one is my copy of the first Girl Scouts book by Edith Lavell, The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School.

I suspect that I might have sold the book accidentally around four or five years ago when I had other Girl Scouts books that were extras, but I really don't know.

Even more puzzling is the disappearance of my hardcover book for Nancy Drew #130, The Sign of the Falcon.  I have in my written records that I have this book, but I cannot find it.  I would not have accidentally sold it.  This is a mystery.

Both missing books should have been on shelves on the same wall and would have been within five feet of each other.  Perhaps their disappearances are connected, but I can find no trace of either book and have no idea where they would be.  I have looked under and behind all bookcases.

I used LibraryThing to catalog my books.  Words cannot express exactly how little I relished the task of cataloging my collection.  I had put the process off for years, then one day in early July, I decided to force myself.  And force myself I did.  It was tiresome photographing thousands of books.  It was brutal trying to interpret my rather disorganized and incomplete records.  In some cases, I was never able to figure out what I paid for a book.

I found the process of entering the data on LibraryThing quite cumbersome at first until I figured out how I could enter the data very quickly.  I have a CueCat, which scans the barcodes.  Since I have a massive quantity of Nancy Drew books that do not have barcodes, I spent one hour compiling barcodes for Nancy Drew #1-56.  I did this by searching the internet for each Nancy Drew title followed by "UPC."  This brought up a page which has a barcode.  I took a screen capture of the barcode and created documents that I printed.  Here is a sample of a part of one of my pages.

I took the CueCat and scanned the printed barcode pages, thus speeding up the creation of my entries for my Nancy Drew books.  For other series, I had to manually search from within LibraryThing for entries, which was slower.  

By the time I had entered a few hundred books, I quit editing titles.  I decided to go with whatever showed up.  After all, I know what each book is, and the title doesn't have to be perfect.  While I'd love everything to be perfect, I wanted to get the data entered as fast as I could since I did not want to do it at all.  Remember, I had to force myself to do the cataloging during the entire process from start to finish. 

While leaving the title alone, I did add a photo of my book to each listing and entered the price paid and date acquired.

I found that I could enter the data directly from the following screen on LibraryThing, which sped up the entry of data greatly.

The above page can be changed to show what you want it to show.  Double-clicking in each box allows for the information to be edited.  As I stated, I did not edit most titles.  I usually did not edit the author's name unless I noticed something that I cared to take the time to fix.  I did try to edit all the dates to reflect the actual age of each book.

After quite a bit of debate with myself where I changed my mind several times, I decided to keep my books in a private library.  This is because I have had aggressive collectors use high pressure to try to get me to sell certain books to them.  Having all books in my collection cataloged publicly makes me very nervous.  I never thought that the small percent of my books mentioned here and on my website would cause problems.

I try to be very careful about how much information I make public online.  Sometimes I worry that I have shared too much in this blog or on Facebook.  Sometimes I have gone back and edited posts, removing some information.

The trend nowadays is for everyone to share everything with everyone else.  That works fine for many people, but I am much more cautious.  My Facebook account is nearly stripped of all personal information.  I use Facebook only to interact with other collectors in the groups and do not use it for anything of a personal nature.  Facebook asks me every few weeks where I went to high school and college, and I refuse to answer.  I'm so sorry, Facebook, but you don't need that information.

I know that many people refuse to use Facebook because they don't wish to share their information.  You can be like me and not share much of anything. 


graham said...

haven't read all of this article yet but, referring to the lost books,have you looked behind the books on the nearby shelves? A book could be lying on it's foredge, for instance, behind the row of books and not be seen.
Failing that, if you can ever locate where all your missing socks are( mine were hiding behind the dryer) the books might be there. lost socks get lonely and ... like to read.

Jennifer White said...

Looking behind other books is a great idea, but in this case, I removed every single book from every single shelf while cataloging the books. None of the books could have fallen behind the others, or they would have been spotted.

I never did find the books. I believe that both got sold accidentally sometime around five years ago.

lost socks get lonely and ... like to read.

Perhaps that is it!