Q&A Have a small library but cannot afford a library management system (LMS) like Oliver, Unicorn or IS OXFORD? How about trying Calibre the free ebook library software?

Final - CALIBRE EBOOKI worked in libraries for over 11 years before giving up work to look after my son and write books. I understand that sometimes small libraries whether they are school libraries or corporate information departments don’t have the money to buy a full-blown library catalogue.

When you work in these organisations you may not need all the features of a full-blown library management system. If that is the case for you, give Calibre a look.

Calibre is free software downloadable from the internet. You can install it like any desktop application on your computer and use tags to catalogue your book’s physical locations.

In my book, A Simpler Guide to Calibre, I also explain how you can use tags to mark a book as out on loan or have virtual libraries so you can see at a glance which books are on loan and their due date.

If you only need a library catalogue for basic cataloguing but no budget or accessible IT department then Calibre could be your answer. Have one computer in your library set up and use it to search and loan your books.

You can not only use the catalogue to find your ebooks (which it is designed for) but you can add physical media such as music CDs or movie DVDs. The software can be used in a variety of ways with a little imagination.

It’s a great way to have a classic ebook collection. Fill up the catalogue with Jane Austen’s, Edgar Allan Poe’s or Robert Louis Stevenson’s books from the Gutenberg project and have a classic collection that will entertain for hours at no extra cost. You can add kindle addresses and get them sent to your customers’ Kindles.

If you don’t have a budget but you need an easy way to organize your books why not give it a try? The software is free after all!

Please stay tuned for other ways to get the most out of Calibre.

Thanks for dropping by.

Now for the obligatory mention of my relevant book:

Final - CALIBRE EBOOKA Simpler Guide to Calibre: How to organize, edit and convert your eBooks using free software for readers, writers, students and researchers for any eReader.

Buy from Amazon:

eBook | Paperback

ceri's q and a

Friday blues…

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…


Well, Friday was quite fun. I had to do the late shift as my assistant needed to do something that night. To be honest I don’t mind its usually quiet on a Friday (relatively speaking that is!) Well, this Friday was no different.

I got in the requuisite half an hour early (I hate public transport), actually 33 minutes early this time. Then again I suppose its better than being late.

First I went to check to see if the food had arrived in the kitchen, it hadn’t so I toddled up to the library and thought I’d spend a quiet few minutes in the cupboard reading a book until my shift starts. I only get paid for working part-time hours and I tend to do more hours than that anyway so I get rebellious now and again and want to do the hours they pay me for. Foiled again, it’s locked.

So I trundle along to the desk and my assistant waves her keys at me asking if I want to borrow them. At this point my rebelliousness wears off and I decide it won’t kill me to give the school yet another 20 minutes of my time for free.

So the day goes pretty quickly, I’m still sorting out the careers section of the library. It’s been neglected for several years. It’s great if you want to find out what courses to study in Science in 1999 or what university was like in 1987 but some of the newer books are fewer and far between. Don’t get me wrong there was the Student book 2006 and The big guide 2007 and 2008. The previous Librarian had bought some new books, but just never weeded the old stock.

So this is the task I set myself for this month, try to sort out the mess known as the careers library. [I always said I liked a challenge.] I managed to catalogue about 6 books by 4pm when the first influx of kids trickle in. I’m really proud of myself at this point!

First I had to stop and settle them down as soon as they came in. The boys go to one side of the room and the girls the other. Mainly because I had to split up the boys as soon as they came in but we won’t go into that.

I was doing the usual, “Please girls shush, you need to work quietly now.” When one of the girls spots its me.

Each of us ‘Librarians’ has our favourites among the pupils and this girl is one of mine although we don’t like to show it. She’s cheeky but in a nice way. There’s no malice and she is usually really funny if a little random.

Today, she spots me and goes “oh Librarian, it’s you, High Five.” and she lifts her hand up.

I shrug and lift my hand and she smacks mine in a high five movement. ..and before I can go back to the desk she gives me a great big bear hug. I freeze. This was really embarrassing for me. I usually have a personal space boundary of about a foot. I’m shy and I like to keep my distance.

This time I didn’t have time to react so I just stood there with my arms to my side until she let go. I gave a quick nervous grin and scarpered back to the relative safety of my desk and shouted again at the boys who were chatting nearby.

At this point I’ll revise my former statement in another post. I don’t shout usually in the day time, but after school baby-sitting sessions are quite another matter.

A more cynical person could say this was a ploy. Now could it be that she gave me a hug so I would be nonplussed and wouldn’t tell her off for talking or is she just a sweet girl with a lovable nature? You decide!

Don’t mess with a Librarian!

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Today has been yet another busy day but there was something worth writing about this time!

I arranged for the careers service to come visit me at 11.30 to help me get to grips with the new system. For those who don’t know, it has changed from the CLCL to CLCI although it might have gone the other way – the initials are so similar!

Anyway, Since I have only been a school librarian for just over a year and the careers section has its own way of organising itself, I didn’t know how to organise the old system or the new system. Hence the request for assistance. hey at least I’m honest – If I don’t know the answer I can admit it and know where to go!

So I booked them at 11.30 knowing break ends at 11.20 thereby giving myself 10 minutes of grace. Yep you guessed it they came early. At about 11.15!

So there I was checking out books, answering questions, keeping an eye on the kids and generally trying to hold it together without exploding at the misbehaving lot in the corner, I know we are good at multi -tasking but school librarians should really get medals for this!

I go over and solicitously ask them if they would like to take a seat as I was in the middle of break. I mean duh, it was a bit obvious. They agreed and sat down while I went back to my desk to check the time. I’ve got to be honest I closed the library for break a tad earlier than I normally would, but then the kids left pretty much on time give or take (take) five minutes.

The usual way of clearing the library means the 50 decibels shout, “OK everyone time to go back to class. Pack up your stuff. Log off the computers…..” And then the walking around the library just to get the message across that the noise they heard was indeed me telling them go back to class and not for the benefit of my health.

So I got to the other side of the library and saw a group of three. I noticed one boy had a bag. I don’t allow bags during break because of the trip risk. So I ask him if he was going to be in the library for the lesson. He says no, just waiting for his friend. So I say, OK, wait for him outside. He says OK but just stays there staring at his friend. I say, now please. Stil in a nice conversational way you understand. He puts his bag on his shoulder and says he was going anyway, so I turn away thinking job done.

I scootch around to the reading zone – nobody there, make sure that no one is hiding behind the free-standing shelving and lo and behold the boys are still there and the one WITH HIS BAG. Now this has now become a threat to my authority. He has obviuosly flouted the rules and taken advantage of my good nature and ignored my instructions. So I stalk up to him and say, really loudly:


He looks at me as if reevaluating me and scarpers for it. Now that was a job well done. future trouble maker put in his place.

The library is now empty apart froma couple of giggling sixth formers (I never normally shout so it was quite unusual) and the careers people. I walk over to them and they say:
“Wow, I wouldn’t mess with YOU”.

I wonder if I can get them to tell the kids that?


Classic Collections

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

The problem with budgets is that they go up as well as down. This year our book budget went down considerably so I have to find ways of making it go that little bit further.

My latest find was from the book people. I managed to get 10 books for just shy of a tenner. Have a look at the BookPeople website at: http://www.thebookpeople.co.uk

These are brilliant. All our classics are looking a bit dated and as my previous blogs show the kids at my school are really picky. I hadn’t seen one ‘classic’ taken out by the younger years since I’ve been there. The sixth formers do but they have to for their A levels.

Anyway, I bought this set of books which are really colourful and a joy to look at. They fit nicely in the hand and the type face is a comfortable size to read. There was:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
Flambards by K.M.Peyton
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

I had just emptied the box set into our cataloguing box yesterday (I loved the box it came in and thought I could use it for something else) when the little darlings spotted the box and asked me to get one of the books pictured on it. Well of course I went, ‘we’ve got them – that’s why the box is there.’ I am my own worst enemy sometimes. I should have said I would see thereby giveing me time to catalogue them.

Anyway they saw me glance at the box we were keeping them in and before you can say, lots of classics to read, they were rummaging in there and reading the blurbs at the back. The up shot of this little escapade was my long suffering assistant had to catalogue them all this morning in a rush. By the time I got in some of the classics were already taken out! The girl I was taking about took out Flambards. Aargh, my planned display ruined!

I’m not sure who won that one. I think I’ll call it a draw.


Trade Unions for School Librarians

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. Posts may be edited from the original blog. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

OK, I know I’ve done a couple of posts already today but instead of talking my fiance’s ears off, I’ve decided to rant on the web instead.

This time it’s about trade unions. I work in a school library as the librarian. I am at risk from children saying something inappropriate because they think it’s funny. There are all sorts of kids in our school as well as extremely bright ones – but then there are different levels of daftness.

I was witness to this last year. My assistant asked a child to stop reaching behind the desk. The child kept picking up pens, notepads, literally anything movable and playing with them. She was finding it hard understanding personal space I think. Anyway, the girl put her hand out with that annoying look that says “what you gonna do about it?”

My assistant puts her hand out (it was nowhere near the child I was standing right next to her so could see this) and asked her to stop. She was at least a few inches away from the child’s hand. Next thing I know the kid is crying “she hit me”. Becase I saw what happened I just ignored her overacting (she should really take up drama) and then she left a few minutes later laughing with her friends.

If she had been a nasty kid she could have caused a whole load of trouble for us. Luckily for us the kids at my school aren’t bad. …but it only takes one bad kid….

Which leads me to my grumble of the day. The various teachers unions won’t take us on because we are not teachers. Even though it is part of a librarians job to teach kids about library and information skills and give inductions and we are at the same risk of unfounded litigation. Given this we are left in the cold with nowhere to go – least of all CILIP. At least trade unions if we could get in to one would use the fees (which are less than CILIPs by the way) to help pay legal costs if such an eventuality happened.

How is this fair?

Even though I am starting to love this job – I am also starting to think the risks are outweighing the ups.

Present day note: This was one of the reasons I left the school. I was looking at after too many children on my own which I felt was risky for them and me. I’m not risk averse but 60 children with just me looking after them, felt just a little scary!

eww public libraries – just kidding!

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. May be edited from the original post. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

I visited my local public library and while its not as bad as the kids’ parents told me, there wasn’t a huge selection of fiction books on offer. We have more books in our spinners! Still I liked their what’s new section (had six books in it which weren’t actually that new), there was a book displayed there which looked quite interesting – I think I’m going to buy it.

I think they could’ve done more really. It was all a bit bland apart from the toddler reading bit which was basically a play area in the middle of it. There were no posters advertising forthcoming books or even what they have that might be interesting. I always insist on havin fresh displays every term in my library. it felt a bit oppressive to tell you the truth. It’s visits like that that make me appreciate how nice my library actually is.

It’s daunting seeing a lot of books with just their spines showing – you need to attract the reader – tease them with colour. Dare I say it – break it up a bit.

The staff were friendly and welcoming, I’ll give them that. They don’t give phone numbers out though – strange policy – do they think I’m going to sell it on the black market for library phone numbers?

hey ho

I’m not reading that – it’s old!

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…


Monday, 31 December 2007

I’m not reading that – it’s old!

As regular readers may know, I m approaching my first anniversary as a School Librarian. When I started I had worked before in business and government but never in a school so for a while I was flying blind (pun intened).

There didn’t appear to be that many user-friendly ideas for school librarian newbies on the net so I wanted to put a few tips on here for future newbies.

Our library is quite large for a school library I’m told. I’ve never worked in another one so I have to take their word for it, anyway there’s over 20,000 books in it. While I know there is a need to keep up to date on new literature, in fact we are always buying new stock, but there’s a lot of books there that just never gets read – and there’s some really good books there that I read when I was in school.

So here’s what I did:

  • Made genre specific displays. i.e. science-fiction, horror, historical…
  • Face out displays on the shelves

and my favourite, a tiny bit of trickery…

Choose books which don’t look that old. My first one was Dreameaver by Louise Lawrence. This was published in 1997 and was last taken out of the library in 1998. A perfect candidate and actually a really good book for sci-fi fans.

Next, I took out the date stamp sheet and put a brand spanking new one in its place and placed it casually on a window display (we have odd books on them (another of my ‘innovations’).

Within days it was taken out as the childen thought it was a new purchase. it has been borrowed since then as well. Critics among you may think that the child would have picked it up because it was out of the main stock. However to test this theory of mine I had removed it and artfully placed it somewhere else a month before with no success. As I mentioned before in this blog – a little trickery gets ’em reading!

Gee I hope they never read this or they will get wise and my circulation will go DOWN.

Riddle Me This for libraries

I have decided to repost some of my old blog posts from the distant past when I was working as a School Librarian. Kids do the funniest things and I really enjoyed working in a school. So this is part of a series from my old Batty Librarian Blog…

Friday, 7 December 2007

Riddle Me This

When I began this job less than a year ago I was shocked at how few of the children knew how to find a book using the Dewey Decimal System. I’m not one to stand there and lecture them until their eyes glaze over, so I had to find a way to make them want to learn how it worked – enter the Daily Question!

The Question

This can be anything as long as an object is the answer. I find riddles and jokes the best. I put them on a board with a hint or clue. If you want to repeat this be ready for an onslaught of cat, house or outer space (anything that pops into their head) before they give up and use the clue provided.

The Clue

Just the Dewey Decimal number is best but if you have two books with the same classification like we have, then we put the page number on so they can work out if it is the correct book.


Here on earth it is true, yesterday is always before today, but there is a place where yesterday always follows today. Where?
Hint: Dewey Decimal, 423
Countless of hapless victims have been tricked into looking for books with just a number. I recommend using this method. It’s useful now as I can just give them a DD number when I am busy and they can toddle off to find the book, but when they go to university it will be an invaluable time-saving skill not just for them but for the University Librarians!

Lending ebooks through Amazon – oh the unfairness of it all!

In the US, (and I am not sure where else), if you buy a book from Amazon there is every reason to believe that you can lend it to a deserving friend., what other kind of friend would you lend your books too?

Unfortunately this is not the case in the UK and possible South Africa, I have a friend there.

If you bought a book from Amazon, all you do is go to the Amazon book page and click the link on the top of the page to lend the book, Your friend will then have two weeks to read it. Sounds simple, don’t it (bad grammar deliberate). If you want more details on how to do this Johanna Garth has a great blog post explaining how to lend them to your friends at: http://www.johannagarth.com/2012/01/shared-good-book-lately.html

Well I can’t do that and I feel left out. I’m the girl sulking in the corner of the party, nursing a gin and tonic looking at the floor, whilst everyone is partying like its 1999 (erm 2012) in the center.

On Facebook, there is a group called SOS, Share our Stories. Its all promoted by Fantasy Island Book Publishing (FIBP) to promote the lending program. After all authors just want their books to be read. Authors are freely lending their copies of other author#s books within the program, unless they are currently reading them.

I think it is about time that Amazon opened up the Kindle Lending Library to the rest of the world or at least the UK! We like to read too and there is a great vampire novel I KNOW my friend will love.

Here’s hoping 2012 will be the year of the Kindle Library.

C’mon Amazon don’t leave us inthe corner…