31 August 2009 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 6 comments

Yesterday, reader Phil LeDuc left me the following comment on my post about our ongoing library project:

The space-for-books problem is kind of like taxes (and death I guess), isn’t it? You can defer it for a while, but inexorably it gets you in the end. I’ve got the same situation.

On a related note Eric, have you catalogued your collection at all? Whether manually or using a software program or similar means?

It’s something I think I need to do for insurance and other purposes, and I’d be interested to hear from you and your readers on this subject. I’d like to find something that’s user-friendly and can produce reports that can be sorted by subject or title or author, and which then can be printed.

Thanks and good luck.

Thanks for writing Phil. The answer is that I have not catalogued my books to date. I usually operate from memory when buying books, which works reasonably well. I only buy duplicates once in a blue moon. However, your point about insurance is well-taken, and my books really should be better covered than what they are.

Susan actually came up with the idea of completely cataloguing our library, and Susan being Susan, she did a great deal of research while searching for an appropriate piece of software to use. She has a large collection of her own, so she has started with her books.

She located a piece of software called Bookpedia. Bookpedia has a lot of really useful functions. If you have a webcam attached to your computer (there’s one built into this laptop), you can use it to scan the barcode for the ISBN, and it then finds the book in its online database. It will store the book by genre, author, title–however you want it to catalogue them. She has found it very easy to use, and I commend it to you.

When she finishes her library, which will occur shortly, she has offered to start on mine. With a couple of thousand books in my library, it’s going to take a while. Also, I have a complete set of the reprints of the OR’s, all 128 volumes of them, and they obviously don’t have ISBN’s. The same goes for my first edition regimentals and some of the replica reprints that I’ve collected from Ward House Books. I’m not sure how we’re going to handle that, but we will figure it out.

Thanks for asking, Phil.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 31st Aug 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I like Library Thing (http://www.librarything.com/home), though admittedly my collection is smaller than yours.

    One thing you may think about doing is for items like the ORs, just enter all books as 1 set. For instance, in my catalog, the 28 or 29 volumes of the Time-Life Civil War Series are all entered as 1 complete set. Maybe that is not ideal for insurance purposes – I had never thought of it from that angle – but since I know I have the complete series, that makes this easier to track (though it only counts as 1 book in the catalog, not giving a true indicator of how many books I have, which is a weakness). With the OR being so much longer and the lack of ISBN, you may consider approaching it from that angle.

  2. Phil LeDuc
    Tue 01st Sep 2009 at 1:56 am

    Thanks for this response Eric. Thanks too to Rob Wick and Dave Gill for their responses to my comment on your earlier post.

    Like you, Eric, I’ve been able to remember what books I have. In fact, I just caught myself this past weekend when I was considering a particular book on Amazon.com and thought to myself “I think I already have it.” And I did. But for insurance and the day when my memory may not be quite as good, I’ve been thinking about cataloging my collection. (CD’s and DVD’s too, for that matter.)

    Like Rob, I considered just using Excel, but it seemed to me that some of the cataloging products I saw might serve my purposes better, and they had some pretty slick features. Although most of them have user testimonials, I wanted to hear more directly from some of your readers Eric. Now I’ll do a little more research and then take the plunge.

    One thing I do know – no matter what product I decide on, the data entry process is going to be a slow, tedious one. (I cleaned that up.) I just hope it doesn’t turn into a Mud March.

    Thanks for posting on this, and thanks again to you and others who provided suggestions.


    p.s. – My admiration to you on having a wife who is willing to do that
    data entry. If I suggested a similar course of action to my wife, who is terrific, she would look at me as if I had lost my mind.

  3. Denny Willis
    Wed 02nd Sep 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Eric, I have to agree with Richard on the LibraryThing.com website..If you check it out, my collection is under “Railsplitter”. You might see some of your books on there. I’ve talked with you a few times at the Ohio Civil War Show.

    Keep up the “good work”

    Denny in Coshocton

  4. John Foskett
    Thu 03rd Sep 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Cataloguing’s a great idea, although with about 1,000 books on the ACW I still rely on memory. I can only recall one slipup when I inadvertently bought a duplicate. Interestingly, it was the paperback of Glory Enough For All – simply forgot I already had the hardcover. I suppose that if I had to make that mistake, I could have done a lot worse……..

  5. Thu 03rd Sep 2009 at 6:56 pm


    LOL. No complaints or arguments here. 🙂


  6. John Foskett
    Fri 04th Sep 2009 at 1:27 pm


    Just don’t get a swelled head over the sales figures for that one. They’re obviously skewed. LOL

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