How to Make a Library Catalog

By Mary Corbin

When organized properly, books can be powerful sources of information that can impact many lives. For a librarian or a private book collector, creating a library catalog is essential. Fortunately, the Internet has transformed the process of forming a library catalog. No longer do librarians and book aficionados need to keep a written card catalog. You can find online tools and free software to help customize a library catalog in a much simpler and time-saving manner.

Step 1

Research existing library catalogs at your local libraries. Observe and compare their online listings to see which features they use and have in common. Pay attention to how they differ as well. Find out how they list their book holdings. For instance, do they list the ISBN number, the author's name, a short summary of the book or the total page numbers?

Step 2

Become familiar with the Dewey Decimal Classification System. This is the system widely used by libraries to organize their library catalogs.

Step 3

Create categories and subcategories for your library catalog. The Dewey Decimal System is divided into 10 broad classes (such as psychology, philosophy, technology or religion) and many divisions or subcategories. Additionally, the subcategories have subcategories called sections. This classification system is very specific and can be used to effectively create and organize a book catalog.

Step 4

Use free software to catalog your library collection online. Websites such as Library Thing ( make it easy to catalog a home library. As a member, you can enter a title of a book and find others who enjoy reading the same genre as you. In addition, for those looking to start a professional library catalog, open source software is available. This software is designed to assist libraries in cataloging, managing and circulating reading materials. One good option is Evergreen Open Source Software ( This type of software is free and in use by several community libraries.

Step 5

Make your library interactive and user-friendly. Most professional libraries allow members to interact with the online catalog by reserving new books and renewing due dates. Consider installing additional features to your online catalog, such as user comments and a ratings system.