Car Collections and Library Technology

Executive Summary

Other webpages on this site explain how and why this project started by using the Greenstone digital library software to assist organizing car collections data.  (See Sample Car Collections/Libraries for the current state of the project).  Although Greenstone is a very good repository for digital items and an archive/collection inventory, is there other library software or technology useful to account for and manage the physical "car library" assets, such as books, periodicals and documents?

Library Technology and Systems

A software "library system" (Integrated Library System or ILS) provides an additional method to manage archive resources and provide an easy access to classification and terminology standards.

As more fully discussed on this webpage, a primary issue for any archive is the need for "standards" when making document classifications.  This includes the terms used (authorities) in the classifications.  Such standards are part of good, basic library practice.  One prominent source of standards for classification and terminology is the Library of Congress and other national libraries.

One open-source ILS is Koha, also originally developed in New Zealand.  It is available as a "live CD" integrated with Greenstone.  This CD software package has been tested, but not yet with car-related data.

American Library Association Annual Conference, Anaheim, June 2012

In May, I received a press release from DL Consulting, a Hamilton New Zealand digital library systems developer and integrator that they would be announcing a new product at the Anaheim American Library Association (ALA) conference mid-June, 2012.  Because I had met DL founder Stefan Boddie in Hamilton NZ in April, 2012, I arranged to see him after his June 19 arrival in Los Angeles and later on June 25 at the Conference.  

My goal in attending the conference was to learn more about digital and traditional library systems and how car collections and archives could benefit from all library technologies. Although the ALA Conference ran for six days and consisted of many member sessions and seminars, I planned to see only the vendor exhibits, which were numerous and informative.

Library of Congress (LOC)

At the LOC exhibit, I posed questions about how to find "authorities" for specific items to be added to  Our library has just acquired a new book published in England, "Archie Frazer-Nash, Engineer".  How should this be classified in a digital library?

I explained that I had not found it in the Library of Congress database, although it has ISBN 978-0-9570351-0-2 in the book's frontispiece, which is also found in Amazon (USA).  The LOC associate explained that the LOC would not have a book or document which has not been submitted to them.  Further, "old" material which is held by the LOC may not be in their databases because many of their extensive, traditional card catalogs have not yet been entered in the LOC databases.

The LOC associate knew about Greenstone and its use of the "Dublin Core" for classification.  She explained that the Dublin Core is a subset of the MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloging) "a data format and set of related standards used by libraries to encode and share information about books and other material they collect" created by the LOC in the late '60s.  Because of MARC's complexity, the "Dublin Core" was developed in the '90s as a standard for digital metadata ("data about data").  She further said that if Greenstone could access MARC records directly, the "mrc" file format could provide standard metadata about that book (or other item).

The LOC associate said another method to easily classify books would be to use the "LibraryThing", an online site which allows individuals or libraries to create an inventory of their books and augment it with standard c lassification data.

She took me to their exhibit and introduced me to Jeremy Dibbell, a rare book specialist.


Jeremy gave me an overview of the LibraryThing online service, which is available free for up to 200 books.  I later signed up and entered several books in my personal catalog, including these:

  • "Archie Frazer-Nash, Engineer"

  • "From Chain Drive to Turbocharger: the A.F.N. story"

  • "The Post-War Frazer Nash"

To add books to a personal library, the system provides several standard methods of searching for books and their details, such as in the Library of Congress and Amazon.  It allows further searching in many national and university libraries, more than 500 in English alone.  Cataloging details (authorities) were found for nearly all of the books I added, but a few were "manually entered".  The books and their details can be put into a list and exported to other standard file types.  A list of books can also be imported into LibraryThing.  A book in a collection will also show other owners of that book, part of the "social-net" aspect of the program.

In addition to a free "personal catalog" of not more than 200 books, LibraryThing offers a lifetime membership for an unlimited number of books for a contribution of $25 (or more!).  There are optional functions "for libraries" which integrate with an existing ILS.  Neither option has been yet tested.

Both the import and export functions of LibraryThing should be very useful, especially because most books will be found in LibraryThing and automatically have much other classification data added.  For example, one Frazer Nash book added now shows the following details:

"From Chain Drive to Turbocharger : the A.F.N. Story" by Denis Jenkinson (1984)

Tags: AFN, Frazer Nash

LOC Classification: HD9710.G74A365 

Year: 1984

ISBN: 0850596319

Dewey Decimal: 338.7/6292222/0941

All of this data can be exported to a CVS file, which is the normal file type used for import into Greenstone.  MARC export is also an option.  Therefore, it seems that LibraryThing is a very useful tool for an archive or collection, either as a complete solution for books and periodicals or to augment a Greenstone digital collection.


I found several vendors, in addition to DL Consulting, who implement and support the Koha library management software for libraries.  Reports indicate that Koha has been installed extensively worldwide and has at least 400 installations.  Other open-source library systems are Evergreen and Voyager (now developed by ExLibris), with similar features and user-bases.

I spent some time with a Koha implementation vendor, ByWater Solutions.  They have an office in Santa Barbara and also also offer online seminars to demonstrate Koha.  I will use either a seminar or personal investigation to investigate if Koha can provide standard classification (retrieving authorities) assistance to Greenstone, in a manner similar to LibraryThing.

Koha's documentation states that it uses Biblios to add authorities to new entries.  Biblios is available as a web service in two formats; these will also be investigated. 

Library System Developers

There were numerous vendors of Integrated Library System (ILS) in the exhibits hall, most offering proprietary systems and a few also supporting open-source systems such as Koha or Evergreen.

Scanning Systems

The conference exhibits included publishers, library furniture vendors, sorting machinery, decorative art and many other items which make up a library but are seldom much though about.

One category of "hardware" being exhibited was scanning systems, likely the most relevant to a vehicle collection or archive.   Systems ranged from very expensive, very large flat-bed scanners to merely expensive auto-page-turning scan systems.  Many vendors also offered scanning services.

Although I probably missed a few scanning vendors, I found BookScan Station had several useful and reasonably priced systems ($3,700 - $4,900) which consisted on a large touch screen control system and flat-bed scanner (and at the higher price, a sheet-feed scanner).   The touch screen incorporates a computer and the specialized software had intuitive and comprehensive options for scanning books, documents and photos. The flat-bed scanner was unique, in my experience, by scanning to within .1" of its edge, allowing a book to be scanned without spine distortion.  The software corrects automatically for inverted or skewed pages.  At this price, it may be a cost-effective method to scan books or periodicals to searchable PDF - and other - formats.  Training time would seem to be minimal.


I resisted nearly all the vendor "freebies", in part because I had gone from Burbank to Anaheim by Metrolink and was planning to return by Metro bus.  A story in itself...  However, I did take a copy of "Computers in Libraries", the May issue.  One relevant article in that issue is "Preserving the Past and Learning for the Future", which describes the evolution of a digital library at the Berklee College of Music.  With a diverse collection of sheet music, recordings, oral history, books and periodicals, Berklee's accomplishments and plans described in this article would seem to fit many vehicle collections and their archives.  I'll obtain copies or provide a link to this article when available.


Greenstone may not provide a complete solution for a collection or archive that requires better control over books and similar physical assets; also Greenstone does not directly provide a method to add "authorities" to ensure correct and standard metadata.  Library systems and Collections Management Software (CMS) are better choices.  

Because Greenstone has been integrated with the Koha open-source ILS, these two software packages should be evaluated together to judge ease of use and Koha's contribution to classification needs.

Email me with any questions!  Bob Schmitt,

Created June 28, 2012; updated September 29, 2012 and November 23, 2015