How to create your Micro-Library

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Just follow the manual to create your Micro-library!
Because we are still developing the project, some steps are still part of the first "dime and a shoe string" way of the project, don't hesitate to contact us if you have any question.


1- How to organize your books

I- Sort your books

Sorting your books will help you manage your library. Their physical organization will correspond to the structure of your catalogue.

a- Distinguish the books available to borrow or to read on site eventually, and the books you don’t want to lend.

Ex: Using pellets of different colors, or a certain organisation (location on the shelf).

b- Determine a classification for your books; it can be of any kind, the only important point is that you will remember it (to help, you can write down the different categories on stickers on your shelves).

According to this classification you can separate your future catalogue into different lists (cf 2- IV Create a list). Ex: by theme, color...

II- Identify your books

So that you don’t lose your books, it is important that your name or the name of your library and address stay visible for the borrower on the book itself. Ex: Bookplate, pencil/pen annotations, borrowing file ( see 4-I-Manage your books).

2- How to list your books through Open Library (O.L)

To register books and create lists we are using an Internet website called Open Library - an important data-base created from individual participation, sort of a Wikipedia for books.

Even if it can appear a bit complicated, O.L has the advantage of giving the possibility to list any book, and being free and open source, which is important for us.

I- Register

a- Go to You will find the -Log in/ Sign up- button on the top right of the page.
b- Enter your information; your user name will be the name of your library.
If you want you can create a new specific email address to help you manage your micro-library .
c- Sign up

II- Research a book

a. find the correct book

- In the search bar ( top right) enter the ISBN (International Serial Book Number) : The ISBN is located with publisher information, generally either in the first or last few pages of the book, sometimes on the back cover with the bar code.

Format : Enter the number, without spaces or dashes.

Ex: 9782551229802
NOT 978-2-551-22980-2

If you can't find the book click on -More search options- ( just under the search bar): Enter the title of the book and/or the name of the author. O.L should now propose to you a list of books. Click on the title of your book from the list.

b-If you still can’t find the book it means it is not yet register on Open Library, go to the next step III- Add a book that is not yet in Open Library data-base
c. find the correct edition

Usually O.L will have different editions recorded for the same book. - Go right of the title and click on the number of editions. - From the list, choose the one you have. Even if there is only one edition, you have to click on -1 edition- to accede to the specific edition page of the book, that is very important for us ( see IV- Create a list ).

You should have arrived now to the specific edition page of your book. If yes, you can go directly to IV- Create a list. If you still can’t find your edition, it means it is not yet recorded in Open Library

a- click on -Add another- button situated at the top of the list and complete the different fields to record a new edition and click on -Add-
b- You will arrive on the page Add a little more, this part is up to you, we encourage you to add more information, it will help to grow up and ameliorate the O.L database, which is created from everyone’s participation.
c- Click on the button - Save- on the bottom left of the page, even if you didn’t add any more information.

You should be now on the specific edition page of your book. You can go to the step IV- Create a list.

III- Add a book that is not yet in Open Library data-base

a- Click on ADD A BOOK, on the top left of the page
b- Complete the different fields:

Title : Give the main title.
Author : if there are multiple, give one for now, you'll be able to change it after.
Who is the publisher? : The information should be at the first or last few pages.
When was it published? : The information should be at the first or last few pages.
ID number : If there is one it's great, but it is optional.

c- Click on the button -add-
d- You arrive on the page Add a little more:

This part is up to you, even if you already enter a new book we encourage you to add more information, it will help the O.L database, created from individual participation, to grow.

e- Click on the button - Save- on the bottom left of the page, even if you didn’t add any information.

IV- Create a list

It is very important for us that you list the edition of the book and NOT the page of the book presentation to be able to import your catalogue ( sorry here is a good example of the “Dime and a shoe string” version!).

a-to be sure you are in the edition page check that at the top left of the page you have written the number of editions with a link to the presentation page of the book.
b-If you are on the presentation page of the book you have the number of editions at the right of the book tittle. In that case, please click on it and find the correct edition.

if you have any problem, you can still go back to the step III – b- find the good edition.

Ok now let’s list your books.

c- On the bottom right of O.L's web page click on Add to list.
d- Select Create a new list. Each list corresponds to your books classification. A list = a Self Shelf Swap's shelf.
e- Enter the name and description of your (first) list. it’s great to have few lines that give information on the theme of the list, we will import this information at the same time as your catalogue.
f- Click on -create new list-

You’ve just listed your first book, now you can continue on with the other ones!

g- To add a book to a list, you just have to select this list via the button- Add to list-.
h- To create a new list, just do the same !

3- How to present your catalogue and create your micro-library

To be able to import your list(s) and create your micro-library, we need some information such as:

a- Your User name in Open Library
b- A contact: an email, a website
d- The city where your library is located plus your latitude and longitude
e- A few lines about your library ( a main interest, some tags or themes…)

Send this information to and CC to

4- How to manage loans

This part is not at all developed yet ( but it is coming soon!). We created for now some personal wiki pages for each micro-library in order to take note of the loans.
We also propose you here several examples to manage your library with the old paper library system, but the best way will be what you find most appropriate in praxis for yourself and your library.

I-Manage your books

a- A good example of an old paper library system is the borrowing file.

Each book has one file inside with the name of the book and the due date re-written at each borrowing. When the book is out, you put the file at the rear of a files box; the files at the front correspond to the books that should be back soon… When the book is back you put its file back inside. This could work with the borrower file.

b- As another simple way you can create an ongoing list with each book going out with the name of the book, the name of the borrower, his contact(s), a due date and a box to tick when the book is returned.

II- Manage your borrowers

a- Whatever the form you choose, it is of course important to keep a contact - different kinds are better- from your borrowers.
b- You are free to ask for a deposit or fines if you want to. In a future view of our project, we prefer that the micro-libraries don’t ask for a member fee, because it would go against the project’s spirit and logic (as a borrower you can’t pay a fee each time you borrow from somebody else).
c- You can create a borrower file in another simple way for each of your borrowers with contact(s), and the different books he took/ has, the corresponding due date and a box to tick when the book is returned.

This could help to give an overview how diligent your borrowers are.

5- How to contribute to Self Shelf Swap

As a future Self Shelf Swap librarian you have to create an account on this wiki, you will then be able to edit it.

I- Give your feedback

A very good way to participate to SSS is to share your ideas, opinions, points of view, jokes… about the whole project or this manual.

a. send us an email at or use our form
b. we created a special librarian corner where you can share your personal experience

III. Improve the manual

This manual exists as a first step, maybe you will find a better way to do it, or a new option that makes the work easier. If so, please:

After having registered (choose a log in name and a password), you will have the possibility to edit changes:

b. Click on edit.

You have the opportunity to write any modification on the page. Please try to be respectful in general of what is already written on the page. Use the wikimedia syntax Help.

c. save your modification.

After you wrote your text, you can check if the syntax is good: Click first on -show preview-. if your are satisfied you can -save-.

III. Become a Self Shelf Swap member

If you like the project and would like to be part of, we will be very happy to have new members. However we are missing some specific knowledge and skills, please check how you could help to know what we need.

Thanks and welcome to Self Shelf Swap!


First edition, First volume (A)

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