I recently purchased the reasonably priced All My Books software for cataloguing a home library, or small group lending library. It’s much more versatile than I expected, and I’m basically pleased. But there are some things I’ve learned about using it that can eliminate some of the trial and error you might need to do if you are embarking on building a library database for your book collection.
Begin with my general review of the All My Books software; it will tell you a lot of things that this product will do, and some things that it doesn’t do (at least in this version- 2.2). To use it effectively, here are some additional things I’ve learned:
Plan your category structure for All My Books ahead of time
You can add as many categories as you want, and delete any you decide you don’t want, but you can’t edit existing ones. So think about your book collection and make some choices. Do you want to lump all books about flower arranging together because you only own three of them? Or do you want a breakdown of ikebana, centerpieces, wreaths, cemetery urns, bridal, etc.? If your collection is limited I’d suggest just Flower Arranging. If you want multiple categories, here is what I’d do. The category list is presented alphabetically, and you can’t change that. So, I’d make the following entries:
* Flower Arranging
* Flower Arranging- Bridal
* Flower Arranging- Cemetery Urns
* Flower Arranging- Centerpieces
* Flower Arranging- Ikebana
* Flower Arranging- Wreaths
This way, all of the choices in a similar group are presented together in your category pull-down list. You can put overview works in the category with no extra information specified.
Dealing with Date Ranges in All My Books
Our collection has those three above-mentioned books on flower arranging. No problem! However, we own several hundred history books. Yikes! Those need extra categories, and my first problem was how to divide up all of history into date ranges. Then, I wanted them to be listed in order and in a group. Here is how I solved that problem:
004000BC- 00750BC Ancient
00750BC- 0476 Classical
0476- 1400 Medieval
1400- 1600 Renaissance & Reformation
1600- 1763 Colonial
1763- 1828 Revolution and Nation Building
1828- 1859 Western Expansion
1859- 1878 Civil War and Reconstruction
1878- 1890 Gilded Age
1890- 1913 Progressive Era
1913- 1929 WWI & Jazz Age
1929- 1945 Depression and WWII
1945- 1974 Cold War and Vietnam
1974- 1991 Post Modern Age
1991- present Information Age
This ordered the dates chronologically, including the dates BC or BCE, whichever you prefer to call them. Your collection might necessitate a different breakdown, but you can see the general idea.
Editing a Category in All My Books
In a phrase, you can’t do this. Here is the best way to make changes as required.
First, add the new category, and select it to apply to all the books you want to “move” or add to it. Then, and only then, delete the old category. If you delete the old category first, you won’t be able to group the books that were in it any more, and it will be a lot harder to go through and find them individually.
Duplicate or Similar Entries in All My Books
Although it’s not in the documentation, you can create a duplicate entry, and then edit it to be a separate book.
Make sure that in View, you have one of the Title List options showing. Then select the book you want to make a copy of and hit CNTRL-D. This will create an exact copy. But if you want to create a second copy of the same book, you’ll want it to have a different book number. To do this, select the new entry, choose Edit and Metadata. Uncheck the “Assign Automatically” box, and change the book number to be one not yet used. When you click OK, you will now have two copies of the same book, but with different book numbers, indicating different physical copies (which might be in different locations, etc).
This is also handy for creating a series of books. If most of the information is the same, perhaps except for title or volume, ISBN, number of pages and book number, you can keep duplicating the book. Then change the book number, and edit the other fields as necessary.
Suggested Custom Fields in All My Books
The possibilities for custom fields are endless, but here are some that I have found useful:
Read: (more than just the read or unread checkbox provided, I put Joan- entire, Joan- skimmed, Joan- part, Joan- reference, and repeated with my husband’s name)
Acquired- how we got it- bought, gift, free,
You can also add check boxes to custom fields, here are some I added
All My Books is much more versatile than I expected it to be, and it’s really helping us to begin to tackle the huge project of documenting our library. Perhaps these tips will help you make good use of the program too.