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    Readerware is a useful tool for book lovers, collectors, researchers, homeschoolers, church librarians, or anyone who wants to catalog and maintain a library. It's easy to use yet powerful enough to manage the largest collections. I used Readerware to create a database for our homeschool library at Crossroads Christian Fellowship church.

    Readerware is truly impressive! I had previously tried BookCAT but couldn't figure out how to use the program. Readerware, on the other hand, was easy to download and it's so user-friendly that I was able to jump right in and begin cataloging items immediately. With the auto catalog feature I can walk away and do something else while all of the data is being added. The information is amazingly accurate and it includes complete descriptions, reviews, and a cover photo when available. Readerware has built-in access to The Library of Congress and The British Library, along with, Christian Book Distributors, and many more. You can choose your favorite sources or utilize them all.

    I have a barcode reader (the CueCat was easy to install and works great), but even typing in the ISBN's by hand doesn't take very long. The original Readerware version could only automatically catalog books by International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN's). In new books, ISBN bar codes are usually found on the back cover. In older books, the ISBN may be printed on the title page with no bar code. Books that are more than 20 years old will not have ISBN's.

    The newest version of Readerware can automatically catalog books by Library of Congress numbers as well. I downloaded the upgrade and it is a tremendous time-saver! Most every book has an LC number, meaning that I don't have to enter the older non-ISBN books by hand anymore. Some self-published books and books from small specialty publishers may not have ISBN or LC numbers. In these cases, you will have to manually type in the author, title, publisher, date, keyword, etc.

    In addition to books, the Readerware auto-catalog feature will search the internet and automatically catalog your CDs, DVDs, Laserdiscs, and video tapes. (ReaderwareAW and ReaderwareVW can be purchased individually or as part of the standard Readerware package.)

    Readerware contains many other useful features such as the ability to keep track of loans and due dates, print out hard copy pages, and publish all or parts of your catalog on the internet. I used it to post the Knowledge House libary catalog online. ( It's just a list, however - you can't put books on hold, check on an item's status from home, or search this online catalog as you would at the public library.

    A client/server edition is available to allow multiple users access to your database on a network. For example, if I were to have a home network with a computer in my first-floor home office and another upstairs in our home library, I could check on and update the status and location of a book wherever I happened to be and know that it's always up to date. Or if we had several computers running in client/server mode at church (one in the pastor's office, one in the main office, and one in the library), more than one person could be logging onto the database at the same time to look up a book, check out a book, or add a book to the database.

    As it is now, I don't have a computer in the church library, so people sign the items out on a check-out sheet, and then I update the database at home later. If we had a computer on site, the pastorís wife could use Readerware to check out books for someone at the church when Iím not there. This way the data would be instantaneously updated. (Keep in mind that anyone who has access to the database also has access to the data, giving them the ability to change or delete something.)

    A Palm edition is also available so that you can carry your library with you wherever you go. This comes in really handy for people like me who get all the way across town to a used book sale or curriculum fair and forget if we already have a particular book or not. Just look it up on your Palm Pilot and find out instantly right where you're standing!

    I am convinced that Readerware is the best product of its kind available for the general public, at a fraction of the cost of professional library software. If you work in a small church or specialty library, you might want to give Readerware a try. If you have an extensive collection of books, music, and videos at home, this program is ideal even if you simply want to quickly and easily record the contents of your collection for insurance purposes.

    My own home library contains more than 5,000 books, 100 audiotapes, 200 software titles, 200 videos/DVD's, and 200 music CD's. Maybe someday I'll have time to get them all cataloged. Ha!

    This article may be reproduced in its entirety by non-profit homeschool associations. Please click here for details.

    P.S. from Teri... I recommend Readerware so highly that I signed up to be a program affiliate! If you should decide to order your own copy of Readerware by following one of my links to their site (such as the logo above), I will receive a commission - but only if you click through one of the Readerware URL's directly from Knowledge House. (Any commissions received will be used to offset expenses incurred for maintaining this website. Thank you.)

    This article may be reproduced in its entirety by non-profit homeschool associations. Please click here for details.

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