Know Thy Books

Owning a large digital library is great when you can consult precisely the book you need at the moment you need it. Buta vast digital holdingcan present challenges when deciding whether to buy a new collection, such as the 2006 Christmas Special, Library Builder: Volumes 1-3 (available through December 31).

At present, there is no magical tool that can analyze your licenses, compare them against the product you’re thinking of buying, then spit out a report showing you duplicated books, new books, books you’d like, books you’ll never use,and books you think you’ll never use until late on a certain desperate Saturday night in February 2008.

But a couple of featuresin the Libronix DLS can come in handy when evaluating a purchase, or simply getting to know your books.

(I apologize if this seems obvious to our seasoned users but I recently came across two users in one day who were not aware of this information and realized that I take it for granted.)

Calling Marian…the Librarian

Everyone probably knows about My Library since there’s a big button for it right in the main toolbar. So I’ll just do a quick refresher…

My Library is the card catalog of Libronix—the library-ish way to see what digital books you own. It’s built on library standards and the “metadata” about each book—stuff like subject classifications—come from the Library of Congress. Yeah, the whole “library” thing is more than a metaphor with us.

In My Library, you can type in the title of a book to find specific volume, or see what you have from a particular author like A.W. Pink or Oswald Chambers.Viewing your books by subject can help you get a handle on the depth of your libraryin a subject like creeds, for example.

Just the List, Ma’am

If list-making,rather than browsing, is whatyou’re after…the Bibliography report is the tool to use. ClickTools | Library Management | Bibliography, then customize the report to show the contents of various collections you may have built or all the resources you own. You can also customize the displayto suit thetask at hand.

“Catalog style with covers” generates the colorful display shown below, which is great for getting to know your books. If you’re making a standard bibliography, you may choose something more utilitarian like “APA Style (4th ed.)”.

For this screenshot, I chose to run the bibliography report on the “Biblical Counseling Library” collection: a user-defined collection I created earlier. User-defined means the list of books in this collection can be completely arbitrary. Themetadata shown in the report comes from the Library of Congress, except for the brief descriptions which our book designers edit together from thebook jacket or preface.

Follow the Money Trail

When you want to view the Libronix-basedproducts you’ve purchased and activated, My Libraryis no help and Bibliography is only helpful if you’ve manually created collections. What you need is the Account Summary, a new tool in Logos Bible Software 3.

(OK, you really must at least download the free update if you haven’t already!)

Account Summary gives you a handle on the product collections in your digital library, as opposed to the individual books.

To open Account Summary, click Tools | Library Management | Account Summary and you’ll see something like this, but with fewer 0s.

Here is a record of the licenses for all the products or collections unlocked on this system. A product like Scholar’s Library will be in this list. At the bottom of the report is a list of the books and resources you have unlocked individually, such as Scripture Alphabet of Animals.

Tip: If you suspect that something you own is missing from this list…click Tools | Library Management | Synchronize Licenses (available only in Logos 3) to make sure you’re utterly up to date.

So What Have We Learned Today?

Account Summary can be the most useful tool when trying todecide whether to purchase a product such as The Complete Theological Journal Library Bundle, for example. You may recall having purchased a couple of journals discs in the past, but can’t remember which ones exactly.

After reading this post you now know that resources like journals don’t show up as productcollectionsin My Library; they show up as individual journals. But you also know that Account Summary is the place to turn for a list of the products you’ve activated, which makes comparison easier.

On the other hand, My Library is the ideal tool for locating an individual resource or browing books by subject. And the Bibliography tool can generate either a standard bibliography or a more detail-rich list with bookcovers and descriptions.

Perhaps a corollary of the dictum “Know Thy Books” is “Know Thy Book-Knowing Tools.”

(Note: Before anyone writes in to ask…if you see an item in your account summary that simply reads “Theological Journal Library” that corresponds to what we now call “Theological Journal Library Volumes 1-5” to distinguish it from the journal collectionsthat came after.)

For further reading see “Getting to Know Your Books,” a web article written by Rick Brannan that offers some additional suggestions for familiarizing yourself with the contents of your digital library.

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10 Responses to “Know Thy Books”

  1. Dave Webster December 27, 2006 at 6:04 pm #

    Daniel, I may have been one of those you came across. I had a few sugestions. It would be nice if in the My Library if I pause over a book if it would pop up the cover. Same in any searching or “click go” features. Another great place to have the cover pop up upon Hover would be when I place an “Open Resource” button on my toolbars. I know the name pops up but I am a very visual person, if I see the cover it helps.
    This post has helped, thanks.

  2. Chad December 28, 2006 at 8:24 pm #

    Regarding the magical tool to help you evalutate a potential purchase against your current library?
    Consider this a third request for such a widget to evalutate your current unlocks compared to a potential purchase on the shopping section of the web site.
    From what little I know about databases, it doesn’t seem like it would take very much effort to write a Java/XML widget that looks at the “Unlocked” list of titles and compares it to what a purchase would unlock.
    The unlock servers know exactly what I have unlocked and exactly what comes with that unlock. This is a computer program and software sales — seems like a simple query that should be relatively easy to automate.
    Having worked for software companies in the past — here’s typically how the decision gets made. How many human hours would it take to develop the widget? How would this impact sales? What would the ROI be? How does this widget stack up against the plethora of other enhancements, bug fixes, and feature requests already on the docket.
    It would be very helpful and cool: shopping for collections. Logon to the web site. Click this button to have the books you don’t already own highlighted!!
    Libronix is getting too huge not to offer some of these features. As the product evolves I see this as unavoidable. There are just so many good collections available!
    We love collections! We love the cost effective value collections offer! Re-buying the same thing we already have doesn’t seem like good stewardship. I try to be fairly concious of the way I spend the money I’ve been entrusted with.
    If any other customers agree with me — I encourage you to post accordingly. With enough demand and expected ROI — the widget could be created and implemented.
    Chad

  3. Nigel December 29, 2006 at 7:42 am #

    This is great. One of the problems that I have with organising my library is that the same author is called different things!
    e.g:
    Arthur Pink;
    Pink, A.W;
    Pink, Arthur.
    How can I change the names of the authors so that they are correct?

  4. Dan DeVilder March 7, 2007 at 6:03 am #

    HEAR HEAR, a widget would be awesome! This IS getting unwieldy. I even agree with Nigel, to a degree. I don’t always find My Library helpful. I wish I had documented what they all were, now I can’t remember. Some of it is the different ways they are categorized. I think at times I want to see ALL my commentaries that address “1 Corinthians” but I have to jump through several hoops to do so. There have been times, too, when I am looking for a specific book, and it doesn’t come up how I THINK it should . . . probably mostly my own ignorance, but at times i think ML is just cumbersome and has “gaps” in userfriendliness. I love LOGOS, nonetheless.

  5. Joseph P Rospapa March 7, 2007 at 11:25 am #

    I agree with all but the first guy, Dave. Maybe this should be an option to turn on or off…I want a widget NOW…
    I think we should be able to use the default categories or set up our own…list of books on the right, categories on the left…drag and drop. Simple…
    One book could be in several categories…so we know the books are in at least one categorie, it would change colors. Also the number of categories it is in would be in () next to the title…is this too much to hope for ???

  6. Daniel Foster March 7, 2007 at 11:31 am #

    The shopping and suggestion widget/service is a desideratum for us, too, but just hasn’t made it to the top of the long list that our small web team has in front of them.
    Better custom categorization and organization of books within the digital library is getting attention, however, and will probably be addressed in the next major version.

  7. Joseph P Rospapa March 7, 2007 at 11:48 am #

    I have another comment, guess I’m on a roll…Why not have Logos have US, the customer, work on developing the booke we(personally) want to see digitized.
    example..
    I want to see “Offerings, Sacrifices and Worship in the Old Testimate” by J. H. Kurtz in the Logos Library. I inform Logos of that. They check with the author and he agrees to have Logos put one copy the book in the library. Logos informs me, and I use Book Builder to creat the Digital copy of the book. I can take 5 years to get it done…since I seem to be the only one that wants the book digitized. When I’m done, I get to keep the book and get a Logos credit (to be used for my library) for work performed. Logos can check out the book and offer it to the public the way it is or develop it further. When the book is completed and ready to offer to the public, Logos can then negotiate with the author on royalties for further coppies sold. If no agreement can be reached, the author has given away one copy of the book and in return has received a digitized copy. Logos has lost nothing…
    It might be an idea for Logos to offer (in Library builder groups) books or articles created by its customers with book builder, or maybe a web page where book builder customers can upload their titles, to give to or trade with others

  8. Jonathan Pratt March 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    I also find My Library unwieldy for finding books. One problem is that every series that I install comes with its own set of reference materials – typically a few versions of the Bible and a single volume commentary or two, perhaps some other stuff. Well I have lots of copies of (say) the authorized version of the Bible. Because each has a slightly different name [e.g "Authorized version", or "Bible - AV"] they are all installed (copied to my hard drive) and show up all over the place in My Library.
    Last time I checked the Libronix repository was nearly 6GB in size – I know because I tried to back it up but I can’t fit it all on a single (single layer) DVD. I don’t know for sure, but maybe I could if I could somehow choose to delete/expunge books that I know are duplicates. Libronix itself doesn’t seem to be able to do that.
    This problem is similar to Nigel’s. I would like to be able to add/attach my own tags to books, display & sort them (in My Library) according to one or more of my tags, and possibly delete books which have a similar (or identical) tag. It would also be great if I could “automatically” create tags from existing information held within each book (like title, subject, category etc.) Then I wouldn’t have to create all the tags from scratch.
    This would solve my problem as well as Nigel’s and have the ‘My Library’ infinitely more useful (particularly if I could share the tags I create with others – you would need to be able to add/edit/delete tags and series of tags easily). Nigel could create a tag (which he might call “real author”, copy the book author into it for all books, then select all the books by Pink and adjust the tag for those books to have the same content. Lots of flexibility…

  9. Joseph P Rospapa March 8, 2007 at 10:51 am #

    One more suggestion…There should be a hierarchy of favored books.. ie. my chosen commentary is book 1, …by clicking a “next” button I could check out other commentaries in the order I have chosen, instead of having to click on parallel resources and choosing. If you guys can do all this stuff, I will preorder the next version NOW…

  10. Dan DeVilder July 2, 2007 at 7:48 pm #

    I think the common denominator is that My Library is not user friendly. Also, I agree with JPR, who suggests a hierarchy for preferred books. Right now, when trying to change Bibles, I wade through a ton of “Cairo” manuscripts, before I get to what I use normally. Annoyance. Not built for speed research. Same way for commentaries and dictionaries.