Managing Your Dead Tree Library

If you're an e-book reader, chances are you already use the wonderful Calibre software. If not, see Dan Sawyer's article in the April 2011 issue. Like many avid readers, however, I still find something soothing about a book made from dead trees. Unfortunately, it's easy to lose track of all the books I own. If you're the type of person who lends books out, it can become even more complicated. Enter Alexandria.

If you have a sizable personal book library, you might be interested in Alexandria. With Alexandria, you not only can manage, sort, organize and consolidate your book collection, but you also can keep track of books you loan out. You can be a tiny little lending library, without the need for library cards!

At the very least, it's nice to keep track of your books. Alexandria makes adding books a snap, and most of the time it even automatically downloads cover art for you. You can go from a pile of dead trees (Figure 1), to a window full of perfect pixels (Figure 2) easily.

Figure 1. Dead Trees

Figure 1. Dead Trees

Figure 2. Books Organized with Alexandria

Figure 2. Books Organized with Alexandria


Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter


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Check out Evergreen (

Dale Scott's picture

Check out FLOSS Weekly #132 for an interview with Evergeen developers. Evergeen (open source but with commercial support if desired) is used internationally by universities and state-level public library systems. Most personal dead tree libraries probably don't to support overdue fines, privilege limits and suspensions, inter-library loans and separate back-end and public-facing interfaces, but it's interesting to hear about the development of a system that does.

Hey Thanks!

Shawn Powers's picture

Thanks for the tip on Tellico, I hadn't heard of it before. :)

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter


Ellipse55's picture

Tellico also makes it possible to add additional fields in a database, say for some specific information not covered by the basic databases. Very useful!!


code bar

Anonymous's picture

Some of the library managers support code bar readers (like the cheap cue cat).
This simplifies book input tremendously.

Tellico (again) does it.
No idea about Alexandria.

another vote for tellico

TechGeek's picture

I use Tellico also. To Michael Reed: Tellico would be very easy for you to consolidate stuff into. All you do is type in the ISBN number for the back of the book and it will import everything else. Very handy.

If only I had started doing

Michael Reed's picture

If only I had started doing something like this about 15 years ago. It's too daunting at this point...

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Alexandria slow with very large libraries

Mark Coolen's picture

Alexandria is great, but very slow with very large libraries. I had to switch my Mother-In-Law over to Tellico because of that. I think the code needs serious optimization.

Tellico Works for Me

Anonymous's picture

There are a huge number of Linux library management projects out there, from barely started hobby efforts to highly polished commercial offerings suitable for large library systems. After spending a few weeks researching the field and trying several, over a year ago I settled on Tellico to manage my little home research library (1,000+ volumes). It works well and is in active development.

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