Bookpedia: My Classroom Library Catalog

How many times have you seen an awesome book sale, but then wondered to yourself, "Which Magic Treehouse book was it again that I only have one of?" Or, "Which Dr. Seuss book did I loan to my fellow teacher and never got back?"

I searched for the best computer programs for cataloging a personal/classroom library, and after trying bunch of them, Bookpedia was the best option for me. It helps guide my book purchases so my library isn't lopsided in terms of number of titles and reading levels, and has a checkout system for me to track who I've loaned books to. 

The interface is very similar to iTunes, so it feels very familiar and intuitive to use, and I love that I can add my own categories for sorting books. 

There were a few things I had to figure out on my own though, to make the program more tailored to a classroom setting.  After purchasing an downloading the software, here's a step-by-step guide to setting up your Bookpedia for your classroom library.

You can use the camera in your computer/iPad/iPhone to scan a book's ISBN barcode, and Bookpedia will then run the ISBN number through several online databases to pull up the book's title, author, publisher, number of pages, genre, and a picture of the book's cover, automatically filling in the entry fields for you in Bookpedia. Scanning your books makes the process of cataloging your library go so much faster. Which brings me to my first piece of advice:

STEP 1: Connect your Bookpedia to the AMAZON DATABASE
Bookpedia's default online database for pulling book titles, authors, etc. is something called Doghouse. You do not want to use this database as I found it will have few (if any) of the books you own.  When a book is not found online after you've scanned it, you must manually enter each piece of information about the book (which would take forever when multiplied by the total number of books you own). 

By connecting to Amazon's database of books, you'll make the process of inputting your book entries faster and more accurate.  This link explains the process for connecting to the Amazon book database.

You have to set up an Amazon Web Service (AWS) key, and then follow the directions for entering those numbers into your Bookpedia settings. It takes a little bit of time, but once you're finished, you'll be glad you did, because it will make all the difference in how easy it is to enter books into your Bookpedia catalog. 

I don't know about you, but I have multiple copies of the same title for many of my books (whether they're guided reading sets or just a part of my regular library). Bookpedia does not have a default field for recording how many of each book you have. You could simply add multiple entries for each book (so you would see the same title, say, three times in three separate listings, if you had three copies), but I didn't want to add that much visual "clutter" to the interface. You can add a Quantity field by going to Preferences. 

These are the custom fields I've added to my Bookpedia:

This is a screenshot of the information I've input for the book Dixie
I downloaded the (free!) Scholastic Book Wizard app to find the reading levels for all of my books.  Every once in awhile I'll search for a book that I can't find within the app, but for the most part it's pretty good about having the titles I'm looking for.  

Depending on how many books you own, it will take a big chunk of hours to enter them all. But make sure you start in one section of your room and move methodically through your collection.  Otherwise, you'll be pulling your hair out trying to figure out whether a.) you've already scanned this book, or b.) this is simply another copy of the book you scanned already. I'm going to start putting a tiny stamp on the inside of the cover of books I've input, so I don't run into this problem again. 

As you add to your book collection (Hello, Scholastic points!) make sure you continue to scan new books into your database. 

Southern California Kindergarten Conference Blogger Bash

Whew!  I'm finally back in my own house and laying in my own bed, after a long (but fun and wonderful!) two days in Pasadena, California for the Southern California Kindergarten Conference.  This is hands down, one of my favorite professional developments each year.  I really have to give my principal a huge shout-out/hug of thanks for consistently letting me take the Friday off for the Pre-Conference session, and for footing the (rather large) bill for registration year after year.

This year was especially exciting for me, because I was a featured blogger for the first time during the Blogger Bash on Friday night!  It was a humble honor to sit at the bloggers' table with some of the best teacher-authors I know.  (Ummm, any of you heard of Katie Knight and Kelley Dolling HELLO?!?  I had the opportunity to see both of these ladies' pre-conference presentations, and they were AH-MAH-ZING.)*

*Side note: You should all binge watch Happy Endings on Hulu during your Spring Break this year.

During the Blogger Bash, all the bloggers and I got to rotate around to each table and answer questions about our blogs.  For all of you who weren't able to make it to the Blogger Bash, these are the two most frequently asked questions I was asked last night: 

First of all, let me just say that I wish I had more time to write blog posts, and that I am in AWE of the women who are able to write on a consistent basis (as opposed to me, who has only written a few times this calendar year so far).  But, the posts I do write, are nearly always written between the hours of 11:30pm and 2:30am, when I am unable to shut off my brain and fall asleep.  Does that mean that the next morning when I wake up at 6:00am, I am an exhausted zombie?  That would be a big fat YES.  I read somewhere that you should schedule times to write, just like you would set aside time for an appointment.  I would like to get to that point, but if I'm going to make time for something other than exhaustedly putting on sweats and crawling into bed at the end of the day, I want it to be for the gym.  (Because let's get real: summer is around the corner, and this body is not bikini-ready.)

When I first decided to begin my blog, I was terrified to begin.  I racked my brain, trying to come up with ideas that I thought would be "blogworthy."  Finally, I had to just force myself to begin writing, regardless of the degree of importance I believed others might assign to my ideas.  No matter what anyone thought (although this was a mute point at the time, because no one was reading my blog yet), I simply began to write.  For all of you who are considering a blog, and wondering how you start, you just do.  You simply begin writing, about anything, and then bravely press "Publish."  

Be brave, dear teacher friends, and take the plunge if you feel like it's been put on your heart to venture into blogging.  And TRUST ME; it gets easier and easier with each subsequent click of that little orange button. Before you know it, you'll be like this: