Monday, November 5, 2018

Using Libib Pro in My School Library

This school year I replaced the retiring librarian at my sons’ school library.  The catalog of over 12,000 items and the circulation was housed on the long-defunct Winnebago Spectrum platform on a stand-alone computer no longer connected to the internet.  The computer was so old that it still had a floppy disk drive.  Well, a few weeks into the school year, the computer crashed completely, and all was lost.  The former librarian had warned me that this day was coming, so thankfully I had already chosen a new system to use – Libib (the professional version; the regular version is free!).  When I was researching Libib, it was hard to find much information on it by actual institutional users, but the price was right, so I bought an annual subscription (very reasonably priced PLUS discounted for non-profits!).  I’m quite happy with it.  I will list pros and cons to help others out there who are trying to decide if it’s a good fit.

Pros: Very fast and easy, if you have the item’s ISBN number. I just use the library scanner or type in the number if there are stickers over the barcode, which there often are.  (Libib also has an app, and I believe that it allows you to use your phone to scan the barcodes, but I haven’t used it personally.)  Most items are already cataloged, although I do have to add a call number.  You can also use manual entry for cataloging, which I had to do with our “Book Buddies,” which are kits that contain a stuffed animal or toy and 3 related books.  If you are migrating data from a system, and your records include ISBNs, you can import them as a CSV.  I didn’t have this option.
Cons: The cataloging is basically crowd-sourced, so sometimes the formatting is inconsistent, or the book description says something like “fair condition” or “good book” instead of giving a summary.

Pros: The pro is that custom barcodes aren’t strictly necessary.  If the book has been added to your catalog, you can check it out by retrieving it by title or ISBN.  (This only presents a problem if you have multiple copies of a book with the same ISBN.)  When you check an item back in, you can use the ISBN.
Printing barcodes is also easy.  The templates use standard Avery labels.  You can choose to print by date range and sort by title or by when copies were added, and choose what information you want to be on the label itself.
Cons: The barcodes generated by Libib are QR codes, so we had to purchase a new scanner that reads both traditional barcodes and QR codes.  Libib recommends a model that is fairly reasonable, so this wasn’t a huge con.

Pros: The circulation mode is fast and easy.  You can retrieve patrons by name or by patron number.  Entering an email address allows circulation reminders to be sent to patrons.)
Cons: There is no patron field for grade.  This presented a problem for me as some teachers want a printout of what their students have checked out.  To work around this, I put a letter or number preceding each student’s last name (i.e. K for Kindergarten, P3 for three-year-old preschool, 1 for first grade).   Reports are generated in Excel, so this way I can sort students by grade and then just print the relevant portion of the spreadsheet.
I also haven’t found a way to print overdue notices.

I love Libib!  I think it’s a fabulous low-cost application for small libraries.  The online catalog is customizable and visually appealing.  The pro version even gives you the capability to set up a self-check kiosk, which I plan to do once all of our books are cataloged.  My current solution for checkout, since so few of our items are cataloged, is to catalog things AS they are checked out.  I can quickly input a book and then it’s immediately available for checkout.  Then, at the end of each school day, I print out labels for the books that were added that day, and put the labels on the books as they are returned. 
Also, anytime I’ve reached out to customer support with a question, it’s been answered within hours.

Have you used Libib?  Are you considering it for your library?  Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in TimeA Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle, Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Sarah Arthur
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely examination of the influence that one of my favorite authors has had on culture and faith. I appreciated Arthur's insights and her synthesis of the overarching themes of L'Engle's work; she managed to convey great admiration and respect for L'Engle and her legacy without resorting to idolatry. A thoughtful and thought-provoking book for any L'Engle fan.

*Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hello Fresh Review

A friend gave me her discount code to try Hello Fresh for $40 off (which meant I got three 2-person meals for $20).  I thought that was a pretty good deal so I tried it.  The meals were delivered to my doorstep, and they were delicious!  There is prep involved --washing and chopping veggies, etc. -- but all of the ingredients are pre-measured so I could feel like I was on a cooking show as I cooked.  Portion sizes were generous, too -- my husband and I are not dainty eaters, but all 3 recipes were enough for us; the pasta dish even had leftovers! It was really nice to know exactly what I was making for dinner -- and that I had all the ingredients for it -- since I've been falling down on the meal planning job lately.  All in all, I would not feel right routinely paying $20 for a meal that only feeds my husband and I (I am an Aldi shopper, after all), but I've noticed that Groupon often has half-off deals.  And if a friend uses your discount code, you get $20 off your next box too.  If you'd like to try it out with my discount code, click here.

*This is my honest review; Hello Fresh has no idea who I am. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: They Danced On (The Darlings #3)

They Danced on (The Darlings #3)They Danced On by Carre Armstrong Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Judging by the epilogue, I think this may, sadly, be the final book in The Darlings Series. But what a lovely book it was, and I was happy to spend time in the company of the Darling family. The main focus in this one was the Darling matriarch, Jane, as she faces the inevitable loss of her husband, who has ALS. Some time was also devoted to Laura and her alcoholism, and to the other members of the family as well, but I still want more.

*Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing an e-galley for review.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Book Review: You Choose

This one has become a favorite since it arrived a few weeks ago -- for both my boys, ages 5 1/2 and almost 4.  Each two-page spread asks a question like "Where would you want to live?" or "How would you want to travel?" and my boys LOVE to pore over the pictures and choose.  It's a great book for encouraging both speech development and vocabulary, and as an oversize hardcover it's a bargain for only $12.99.  Click here to read more about it or to order.

Monday, November 30, 2015


Probably no one in cyberspace has noticed, but I've been MIA lately...since mid-August, to be precise, when I started selling Usborne Books.  It's been a whirlwind -- but a good one!  I'm still working 20 hours a week at the library, so I've been fitting Usborne in to my "free time" -- if you're a mom, you know there's really no such thing.  But I'm loving it, and I've really helped boost our family's income.

I just wanted to explain where I've been (I'm still here!) and what I've been doing.  I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Usborne Books and More!

As a children's librarian at a public library, I see a LOT of books.  Some are fun. Some are educational.  And some are both!  I recently discovered Usborne Books and hosted a home party.  I was so impressed that I signed up as a consultant so I could get more free books.  My boys love them.  They'll be my new go-to gift for kids.  Usborne is a publisher that began in England, and the books are sold in the U.S. mostly through direct sales (remember how DK books used to be sold only at home parties?).  Click here if you want to learn more about the 2014 Children's Publisher of the Year!