Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Retriever iPhone app

I'm going to put this out here only because if someone else has to organize or inventory their child's classroom library as a project, this might help you. 

I spent the first few weeks of school gluing hundreds library card pockets into the backs of books and then filling out hundreds library card for Reagan's 3rd grade classroom.

When I asked the teacher if the system was working she informed me that all the pockets were falling out and that I needed to re-glued them.   

It was that evening after the kids went to bed and after I organized a stack of books, that it hit me.  Almost all these books have bar codes.  I bet someone already did this and there is an app or program out there that we could use.

After a little searching I found the Book Retriever app.  It only cost .99 cents so I thought I would give it a try.

I love this app!!

Using the camera on your iPhone/iPad2 it scans the bar code on the book, you can also find the bar code on the inside cover or on the back of the book. It finds the book in the database and presto. You can add students and they can check out the books and return them by scanning the bar code.

If the book does not exist, you can add the book manually.  Make sure that the ISBN number on the form is the same number on the bar code of the book.  Sometimes it only scans part of the bar code and only a few numbers show up, in that case you just might need to try scanning again.  If you enter the book under the partial bar code scan it won't later recognize that book and you will have to do it all over again.  When I have to enter them in manually I use my iPad2 with the keyboard because it is a whole lot faster and easier, especially if I mess up ;)

You can print bar codes as well.  The only problem I have is air print prints it at a high quality and it scans better with the iPhone when its printed on draft or a lower quality setting. Air print doesn't allow you to adjust the printer setting.

 Not all books have bar codes but they do have an ISBN #.

This book does not have a bar code but does have an ISBN #

This is my work around until apple adds a quality printer setting or Book Retriever changes the app.

This website has the EAN 13 bar codes that are needed to scan. Just type in the ISBN number and BANG, there it is.  Make sure that under the description it matches your book, like paperback, hard copy, etc...

 So I copied the bar code image by right clicking and selected copy image and put it in a word document that I set up to print 5160 address labels.  I print when I'm done with a stack of books, keeping them in order and scanning as I apply them to the matching book.

Screen shot of the word document set up with 5160 labels
The bar code on the inside cover.  Not pictured is it covered with clear packing tape to protect it from water damage.

Its a fairly new APP so you might have to enter in a lot of older books manually along with Scholastic books.  Scholastic books are somehow different and a lot of them have to be entered in manually.

Reagan's tiny private school doesn't have a school wide library, just classroom libraries.
I have been emailing and talked on the phone with Stephen from the Classroom Library Company, Inc. trying to resolves these issues. He has been very helpful and was rather impressed with my work around.  He might even have me do a write up similar to this one for their blog they are developing for troubleshooting and frequently asked questions.

Stephen was very nice on the phone and encouraged me to call if I had any other problems and I encourage you to call too.  I didn't get paid to do this or get the app for free.  Just a Mom who volunteers in her daughters classroom.

Hope this was helpful to at least someone :)

1 comment:

Stephen said...

My name is Stephen and I'm part of the Classroom Library Company. I helped to design the Book Retriever and handle all of the questions and criticism and input from everyone who's had a chance to use it. I just wanted to thank you for being so excited about a project that I've been so close to for the past year and a half. Most of the features you see have evolved from the discussions we've had with all of our teacher friends. Our best ideas are the ideas you tell us about. I can't give you anything definite right now, because we're still in the planning stages, but *more* is coming. Thanks very much again. And don't hesitate to contact me directly if you or anyone else has any questions. Happy Reading.