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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).

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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.

  1. Eric
    October 22, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Well, doesnt look like Libra's coming back. You can still import manually, though its a pain. aside from the auto import, the program is still awesome. Perhaps someday, someone or the author will continue.

  2. Simon Slangen
    September 27, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Libra is not coming back on. My advice would be to export your library (Menu -> Export) and move to another application.

    Best of luck. :-)

  3. speed
    September 27, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Any solutions to Libra issue?Sucks that I installed it and spent a week entering my collection to have it stop working when I'm 90% done.Tonight it linked briefly for DVD but then stopped responding.

  4. Simon Slangen
    September 18, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    It seems Libra is out of service, many people are experiencing this problem.

  5. Rose
    September 17, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I've just installed Libra and I'm having the same problem - can't add any item by searching the bar code or title. I hope somebody out there knows what's happening or has a solution.

  6. GONGA
    September 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    yeah im having the same problem does anybody know whats happening, i love the software and it would be very hard to import all my collection to other software

  7. Felipe
    September 4, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Does anybody know if libra is still working? cus i can´t add any new itens to my collection.... This problem started about 2 weeks ago.

    • Michael
      September 9, 2009 at 1:26 am

      I'm having the same problem. Even tried downloading a copy on a different PC. Still doesn't work.

  8. Sergio
    June 17, 2009 at 1:37 am

    How to import covers from DVD Empire in Movie collector?
    It seems that in latest release this option to switch between Amazon/IMDB/DVD Empire, etc., is not present anymore?

  9. jon
    April 6, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    anyone know how to tweak the program so you can have a comic book tab? I know id have to manually enter as amazon doesnt have comics, but id still like to have them seperate from books.

    • Simon Slangen
      April 7, 2009 at 3:19 am

      I don't think this is possible.

      • Cathi
        April 16, 2009 at 1:27 pm

        Is there a program like Libra that does comics? My hubby has a huge collection boxed up. I have a handheld scanner so I could scan the barcodes. Any such creature?

  10. Ted
    January 22, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Does anyone know if they are going to release a new version of this? It doesn't seem like they are even considering working on this software anymore which is an utter shame as it is a peice excellent software.

    • Drew
      January 22, 2009 at 11:55 pm

      As far as I know, no one has been able to get a hold of the devolpers in a lonnnng time =(

  11. Noblejoker
    January 2, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Does Libra do Records - You know thos ancient lumps of black vinyl :)
    I have a mate who is a mad collector of old vinyl and would love to have some cataloging software to use to keep track of records and songs

    • Simon Slangen
      January 2, 2009 at 6:58 am

      You'll be able to catalog those old vinyl records, given that they're listed on Amazon, because that's where Libra grabs the data from.

  12. dgsinclair
    September 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    I've been considering collectorz.com/book/

    • Simon
      September 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm

      If you're willing to spend the money, Collectorz is a great choice, otherwise Libra is a great alternative.

      I've used Collectorz Movie Collector for some time, and am very pleased with it. You can download a full functioning trial at their website, give it a shot and see if you want more.

  13. Steve
    September 15, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Simon

    Yes, something like Media Monkey but not a player. Basically like Libra but for MP3s. I tried Catraxx but it was too messy when importing the MP3s into the program.

    • Simon
      September 16, 2008 at 10:40 am

      Ok, you may want to try easy album manager or Data Crow.

      I've used neither of these, but they look pretty decent. Please let me know how it/they work(s) out!

  14. Drew
    September 15, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Tried this program a few months ago. Pretty nice and I love the barcode feature. Problem is there hasn't been and update in over a year, and the developers haven't even done as much as visit their own website..

  15. Jonny
    September 15, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Can anyone give more details on how this compares to GCStar? I have tried GCstar on windows, but I find it to be quite buggy. My biggest problem is that it is very slow to download the information from Amazon. I can sometimes go to amazon, find the info, copy and paste it faster than GCstar can fetch it!!

    Also, is there any batch processing...for example if I input a list of ISBNs could it download the info overnight?

    • Simon
      September 15, 2008 at 4:37 pm

      I don't know about the batch processing. Give it a shot and let us know if it worked.

      • Jonny
        September 16, 2008 at 6:37 am

        I went and tested it and it can do batch processing if you import a generic textfile loaded with carriage-return delimited ISBN numbers, At least it worked on my small test file, but I haven't done any heavy testing.

        It's also much, much quicker than GCstar was for me when fetching info from amazon.

        • Simon
          September 16, 2008 at 10:22 am

          Well done mate, I'm sure this'll be helpful to a lot of people!

  16. Steve
    September 14, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Does anyone know of a good tool to catalog and organize MP3s? I don't mean tagging.

    Thanks.

    • Simon
      September 15, 2008 at 9:24 am

      Can you be a little more precise on what you mean? Do you mean something like MediaMonkey? Or are you looking for something in the trend of Libra with the main focus being on music?

  17. pavid
    September 14, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the review. I'm going to check Libra out in a minute.

    First, though, I need to clarify something for you and all the people that make this same mistake. You cannot "loan from" someone, you can only "loan to" someone. Similarly, you cannot "borrow to" someone, you can only "borrow from" someone. So a loan always goes out and borrow always comes in. Hope this helps you in the future. It's a minor niggle but one that grates on me for some reason. No offense is intended.

    Again, thanks for the review. Good luck!

  18. Chasse
    September 14, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    This tool was really interesting but what I was missing was the function to show where the item is stored. This is important because i have a large e-book collection as well.

    Is there a more appropriate tool for me?

    • Simon
      September 14, 2008 at 5:54 pm

      You can make Libra open your ebooks by double clicking on them (see how to configure this under' making shortcuts' in the article). Alternatively, you can put misc. info in the 'My Info' tab, at the right side of the screen.

      If you are solely interested in managing your ebooks, you might enjoy eKitaab (click here for a screenshot) or you could try if GCStar fits your needs (thanks Martin).

      I hope this answers your question.

  19. Simon
    September 14, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    For Linux collection suites, check out Abraham's 4 Open Source Collection Manager Apps!

  20. Martin
    September 14, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I like to use cross-platform apps as often as I can so that it doesn't matter if I'm using my Vista OS or Ubuntu OS (dual-boot). So, for collection management I can highly recommend gcstar.org/. Abraham’s 4 Open Source Collection Manager Apps mentions it as Linux only but that's not correct. Windows handles it no problems. Check it out if you're looking for a great freebie to help you with your collections.

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