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Watching, playing, listening and reading can be one hell of a lot of fun, but collecting by itself can be enjoyed just as much as well. You buy those new DVD’s at Best Buy, get some great audio from the iTunes music store and also that new book from Gaiman.

When you keep going on like this, you’ll eventually lose track of the where, the how and the what of your collection. To create some order in this chaos, we need to use collector programs. One of the best and free collection suites is Libra. Read on for an in-depth review.

Libra, true art lies in simplicity

When trying to resolve the mess, to simplify it, it’s important to keep it down on the complication scale. It’d be pretty ridiculous if we created a mess to escape from another one.

Libra, a freeware suite for Microsoft XP and Vista, does exactly that. It’s an absurdly simple and easy to use program that doesn’t overkill with all the extra functions and gives you pretty much all what you need.

But… How?

As previously mentioned, Libra allows you to construct a digital representation of your books, DVD’s, CD’s and games (the last one being missed out by most collection software).


Adding Media

To add an item to the Libra application, just go to the ‘Add’ tab by clicking on the top icon. Here you can use one of three ways to virtually add an item; you can search for the barcode or the title on Amazon (US, UK, DE, JP, FR or CA), add it manually by choosing a picture and filling out the forms or import it from another application (supported are Delicious Library, DVD profiler, Generic Excel, Generic Text File and LibraryThing).

One of the great functions in Libra is that you can use your webcam to scan barcodes. Using this you can speed up the digitalising a great deal. If you have a more than average collection, you’ll find this to be very usefull!

Loaning to Friends

If you look back over the years, take a look at everything you’ve ever loaned to friends. Do you think its safe to say that you’ve got all those things back? Hah, thought so.

Libra is not limited to indexing the stuff on your shelves. When its done with that, it’ll start indexing your friends (or, at least, it’ll help you do it). Once he / she’s in the program, you can say what he / she has loaned from you, when he / she loaned it from you and when you expect to get it back. This way you can make sure more stuff goes on the shelves than from it!

Making Shortcuts

Another great Libra function is the ‘Play’ component. By double-clicking an item, or pressing ‘Play’ in the item description, you can use pre-described shortcuts. By default, this will open the Amazon page of the item in question, but by using the dropdown menu in the description you can add your own shortcuts.

For instance, you can use it to open iTunes and start the CD you’ve selected. Alternatively, you can make it start movies, run games, open ebooks, etc….the possibilities are endless.

Do you use Libra for your media inventory needs? Or do you have another preferred program? Or perhaps you are an old-fashioned Microsoft Excel kind of person when it comes to keeping track of what you have on your shelves. Let us know in the comments what you prefer.

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