11 November 2015

Take your book catalog on the go with LibraryThing's new app!

The fourteenth century Bishop of Durham, Richard de Bury (d. 1345), wrote an entire book on the love of books, Philobiblon (excerpts from which are given in this post at Medievalists.net), in which he waxed poetically and movingly of the value of books, saying:
How safely we lay bare the poverty of human ignorance to books without feeling any shame! They are masters who instruct us without rod or ferule, without angry words, without clothes or money. If you come to them they are not asleep; if you ask and inquire of them they do not withdraw themselves; they do not chide if you make mistakes; they do not laugh at you if you are ignorant. O books, who alone are liberal and free, who give to all who ask of you and enfranchise all who serve you faithfully!
A lover of books for as long I can remember, I have several times said (partly) in jest that I intend to be my own library by the time of dead. To this end, I have acquired more than 1,500 books in my 37 years of life. This is, if my say so, a worthy start.

Of course, having such a collection of books needs a way to keep track of the books and to prevent acquiring a copy of the same book twice (as sometimes happens). To assist with this, I have for years made use of LibraryThing, a personal online catalog of sorts. After you have created an account, you can add books from your library to your online catalog using the title, author, and even the ISBN number (which I find to be the most efficient way).

Yesterday I noticed that LibraryThing finally has an app for the iPhone which you can freely acquire at the Apple store. I have been very impressed with the app so far, which even allows you to scan the bar code of a book and add it to your catalog. With this app, you'll never be far away from the books in your collection and can see if you already have a copy of a book that catches your eye.

Having so many books, of course, makes an arduous task of moving house but, because as Richard de Bury also says, "Books delight us, when prosperity smiles upon us; they comfort us inseparably when stormy fortune frowns on us," the effort is well worth the trouble (and provides an easy way to find out who your real friends are).

And while we are on the topic of the love of books, here's an interesting manuscript image of a deceased bibliophile:

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