In hopes that no one will mind, I thought I'd take a minor break from "real" gardening to tell you what my obsessive-compulsive "Mr. Hyde" personality has been doing off and on for a few days. During a search for iPhone barcode inventory applications, I came across a nifty little app called Home Library, by a programmer named Shahab Farooqui, who appears to be based in Australia.
Occasionally, during my perusal of second-hand book stores for gardening texts, I have purchased a duplicate of a garden book that I already have, usually a newer or foreign edition of the text I have. It's more than a little aggravating, because although I remember most of my books, especially the ones that I've read cover to cover, there are those that slip from aging memory or that I can't remember if it looks familiar because I've seen it before in a bookstore or because I've seen it on my own shelf. I also occasionally wonder how much money I've wasted during my life on books and I'm quite sure that many other gardeners share my guilty feelings in that regard.
Well, Home Library is quickly solving both those problems for me. It scans the barcodes on the book, automatically searches the Internet for it, and adds the book to an inventory that includes a picture of the book cover, title, author, description and estimated replacement cost. In about 2 hours, I've catalogued 5 shelves of gardening books, with 6 or 7 more shelves to go. Sometimes, it can't find the book by barcode and I have to search the title, but that takes only a little longer and seems to be about 10% of my books, mostly the older ones. Right now I'm at 187 gardening books and let's just say that before I'm done, the estimated replacement total is likely going to match that of a nice Hybrid car.
Home Library has some great features, such as letting you keep track of loaned books, and allowing a search by author, title, collection, subject or lendee's. You can rate your books or summarize them. You can export and share your library online or via email to an Excel compatible database. If you have some older books, without bar codes, there is a manual entry function that allows you to enter the title and/or author, and the Internet search function will invariably pop up the book.. The app also categorizes far more than books; it has built in categories for music, movies, games, and "other stuff".
I thought I should share because others of an inventory control freak nature might want to try out the app. Please note that I have absolutely no connection to Mr. Farooqui nor financial interest in the Iphone app. It's just working for me and it's working better than a major competitor, SmartBook, which I also tried. Yes, inventory of a home library may be a little nutty, but hey, anyone who tries to garden in Kansas has to be a little nutty right from the start.