How Can I Make a Book Catalog at Home?

Book lovers generally find themselves collecting hundreds or even thousands of books. All too often, you'll find yourself searching for a favourite book or wondering if you have all the volumes in a trilogy or all the works of a favourite author. Cataloguing your collection may seem an overwhelming task, but a number of methods exist, and tools are available to make it easier.

Take the old-fashioned -- think of it as classic -- approach and create your card catalogue on index cards. All you'll need for this are blank index cards; a pen, pencil, typewriter or printer; and a box or cabinet with drawers to hold the cards. Write the name of each book on the card and include as much other information as you need, including author, publisher, date of publication, number of pages and personal notes, such as whether you've read the book. It's easy to add new books as you acquire them. You can have as many cards per book as you like, depending on whether you'd like to categorise your books not only by title but also by author, subject matter or even a Dewey Decimal Classification or Library of Congress Classification numbering system.

Use a computer program to catalogue your books. You can keep a simple list in an Excel file, a more complex record in a database file, or download one of the many programs designed specifically for cataloguing. A computer program will allow you to sort your list with a click of your mouse. You'll also have the option of selecting a portion of your catalogue to analyse or print out. For example, you may want a list of books by a favourite author to carry with you so you can complete your collection as you come across books you don't already have in a bookstore or at a yard sale.

Enter your book catalogue on one of the online websites designed for the purpose. and are two of the best known. LibraryThing allows you to search for books by title or ISBN and add them to your catalogue with one click. You can tag your books in any way you like, such as by genre or location in your home, and you can organise your books into separate collections, such as a wish list or "read but unowned" for library books. allows you to organise your books by virtual shelves. Both sites allow you to rate the books you've read and to look at the covers as well as lists that you can customise to show the information you want. The advantages in using the online sites are that you can access your catalogue from anywhere you have Internet access and, since the information is stored on the site, you'll never lose it as long as the site is in existence.


The online sites for book cataloguing offer additional value, such as recommendations and comments from other readers.

Warning will only allow you to catalogue a limited number of books without paying for a membership to the site, but the fee is nominal.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Elizabeth Jewell has been a freelance editor, writer and lexicographer since 2003. Previously, she was employed by Oxford University Press and Business & Legal Reports. Jewell earned simultaneous B.A. degrees in English and history from Penn State University, as well as an M.A. in English literature from UCLA.