Building a Book Crawler personal library using Goodreads

I LOVE using Goodreads to track our reading, both for myself and the books we read in our homeschool. But a recent online discussion got me thinking about tracking my actual personal library in a catalog app. I had never considered doing this before but the more I considered it, the more I realized what a great idea it was! Being able to look through an inventory of our home library to see what we already owned (digital or print) is helpful for so many reasons.

It provides a master list for future book shopping. Knowing what we have and what we don’t can help prevent buying duplicates. This is also helpful if there are missing books in a series.

Over the past few years, we have had to make the hard decision to keep many, if not most, of our fiction books packed away. We just have too many books, even though we pared down our collection to only the ones we “really” wanted to keep. Having a library inventory provides us with a means to keep track of which books are currently out (and where) and which are currently boxed (along with box number and location).

This doesn’t happen often, but if someone borrows a book, I can keep track of who has what book, and how long it’s been “checked out.”

So… After some online discussion and a little searching, I decided to take the plunge and try Book Crawler.

I have invested a lot of time in Goodreads, keeping track of my personal reading, as well as the books we read for our homeschool (Curious about how we use Goodreads for our homeschool booklog? Check it out here). I plan to continue using Goodreads for tracking our reading, posting reviews, etc. Thankfully, Goodreads integrates really well with Book Crawler!

There are a fair amount of books that I have logged into Goodreads that I actually own, so rather than have to go through and enter these books individually into Book Crawler, I used Goodreads to import them. Here’s how I did it.

1. In Goodreads, I created a new bookshelf called Books I Own.

2. Under My Books -> Bookshelves, I select All – this pulls up all the books I have entered into Goodreads.

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3. If you scroll down, you can set how many books to display to Infinite Scroll. This is a personal preference, but for this task I find it helpful to have all books displayed on one screen rather than separate pages. As you get to the bottom of the screen, more titles will load.
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4. At the top of the list, you can then choose to Batch Edit. This makes your entire book list appear with check boxes to the left.
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5. After scrolling through the entire book list and checking the books I actually own, I then select the Books I Own shelf from the drop down menu. Then I click Add Books To This Shelf. Boom. Done.

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6. On my tablet, I open up Book Crawler. I click on Community, located along the right side of the screen.
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7. At the top of the screen there is an upload icon (a box with an up arrow). When you touch that, it pulls up a small profile menu. You can sign in with your Goodreads account info here. Under Goodreads, there is an Account Transfer option. This gives you an option to upload (from Book Crawler to Goodreads) or download (from Goodreads to Book Crawler).

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8. Selecting Download will display a scrollable list of all your Goodreads bookshelves.

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9. I simply scroll down and select my Books I Own shelf, which appears as books-i-own, and then tap the upload icon (the square with the arrow) to the right of the word Goodreads. A Downloading status bar appears in the lefthand corner as titles are downloaded.
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10.  After books are downloaded you can view your Books, and select various options, adding to Collections, adding Tags, etc.

So this is a great way, if you use Goodreads, to build up your Book Crawler library. Here are two more reasons I love having the two integrated.

1. I can import books from Amazon! Goodreads can link to my Amazon account and I can directly import all the books I have purchased, whether they are print or digital, into Goodreads. I can also select all the shelves I want them in at the point I add them, including my Books I Own shelf, so it’s one easy step.

2. I can scan books into Goodreads using my iphone and the Scan option in the Goodreads app. This tool alone will make adding cataloging my personal library SO EASY!

Homeschooling with the Public Library

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When I was in middle and high school, I spent a lot of time at the local library. I was always reading and checking out books. I even worked for a time as a page at our Central branch while in high school. In my twenties, I was quite the book collector – I spent way too much money in bookstores and on Amazon. As a result, I built a pretty extensive personal library. It has only been in recent years that I have found myself downsizing (seriously… who needs six different Physics textbooks).
It wasn’t until after Kyri was born, and she got to be in preschool, that I turned back to the library. When she was enrolled in private preschool, I started taking her to Storytime at our local branch in Maryland. She loved the activities and songs, and loved  finding books for the week for our Bedtime reading. When we relocated to Texas, one of the first places we looked for was the nearest library. She enjoyed the Storytime at our new library, and her only complaint was that there wasn’t an ice cream shop within walking distance like there was in Maryland.
Once we started homeschooling in earnest, I really learned to appreciate our public library. Now, I can’t imagine homeschooling without my local library system. I know that as our kids get older and their homeschooling needs change, the library will continue to be a primary resource for us.

Access to books

This goes without saying. But it’s not just going to the library and checking books off the shelves anymore. We have multiple branches here in San Antonio and not all the branches have the same books available. I use our library website  A LOT. I can check the online catalog for books I am interested in. I can easily see what branches have them and how many copies are available. But I typically only go to one branch for our weekly trips. On my profile I have set this particular branch as my Home branch. When I find books in the catalog that I need, I place a hold. The library pulls the book(s) and sends them to the holds shelf of my home branch (or whatever branch I request – the home is just the default). It doesn’t matter which branch the books are located at, they get sent to your requested pick up site. I get an email notification that my book is ready for pickup and I have a week to get them before they get reshelved.

This service alone is so helpful for our school. I can sit down with my lesson plans and do catalog searches, placing holds on what I need. I can request up to 25 books at a time. Additionally, since Kyri has her own card that I manage, this gives me an additional 25 books that I can request under her name. Then, when we go for our weekly visit, I just grab my books from the hold shelf.

Children’s activities

There are so many different activities going on during the week at the various branches. There are Baby Storytime, Toddler Storytime, Discovery times, Family Fun Times that include crafts for homeschoolers, Teen Book Clubs, and more. Throughout the year, there are seasonal activities as well: Valentine’s crafts, celebrations for Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Chinese New Year, etc.

Kyri loves the Family Fun Time at our nearby branch – each week has a new craft or activity. Now that I am starting to look for more activities specifically geared toward kids in Ender’s age group, we are going to start participating in the Toddler Time activities.

Reading, crafts, hands-on activities – there are so many activities available during the week and most, if not all, are FREE!

Resources for homeschool groups

The libraries have meeting rooms that are available for a reasonable rate. We have participated in two different co-ops that have used the meeting rooms at the Igo Branch Library. Spacious, clean, with staff that are gracious and eager to assist.

Even if a  dedicated meeting room is not needed, libraries are still great places to meet. Some branches are quite  close to parks that make meeting for a park day coupled with library time.

Knowledge and Assistance

There are wonderful people working at the library, especially in the children’s section. If you are looking for books on a particular topic, ASK. The folks working in the children’s section are there to help – take advantage of this! The Children’s librarians also work to put together suggested reading titles that focus on different times of the year or themes – such as Spring, Back to School, or Black History month. I love looking at the suggested titles that have been put together by the library staff.

Encouragement for kids

Kyri was so excited when she was old enough last year to have her own card. She likes having the responsibility of her own card (and I certainly appreciate having more books that I can check out and have held…).

Now when it is time to check out books she makes sure to separate books into hers and mine, even though “my” books are all for her. As long as she is enthusiastic about reading, I don’t mind which card is being used to check out!