Search your library with a CueCat

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Search your library with a CueCat

Mar 31, 2015, 1:54pm

Brief: We've added the ability to search your library using an (unmodified) CueCat. Just put your cursor in the search box and scan it with your CueCat. It'll turn the code into the ISBN and find it.

Longer: Barcode scanners are generally the fastest way to enter books. We sell an old, cheap barcode scanner called a "CueCat" ( ). For strange reasons having to do with it's original, deeply stupid purpose, the CueCat doesn't scan barcodes straight, but rather desperately obfuscates them. So the ISBN barcode for: 9780440418320 is turned into (I kid you not):


LibraryThing's Add Books page read that, recognizes it's a CueCat code, and turns it back into the ISBN, for quick adding to your library.

Now we're also doing that on the catalog page, so that you can search your library by CueCat barcode.

It's not quite as useful, but we also added the ability to search the site with that code too.

That's all.

Mar 31, 2015, 2:00pm

So we scan teh cursor with our cue cat? Or the search box?

I'm confused. :D

Edited: Mar 31, 2015, 2:18pm

I think the cursor has to be in the search box and then you scan the ISBN barcode on the book.

Mar 31, 2015, 2:31pm

an (unmodified) CueCat

But this apparently doesn't work if you declawed your CueCat (as I did just this week)?

Mar 31, 2015, 2:34pm

>4 Taphophile13:
A modified one is producing the number itself - so it should have worked even before the changes?

Edited: Mar 31, 2015, 2:38pm

>5 AnnieMod:
I don't know. I'll have to give it a try.
Okay. I just scanned two bar codes for books I know are in my catalog and the pages came up correctly for those titles. Cool!

Mar 31, 2015, 2:49pm

Yeah. Modified Cats have worked all along - as far as the computer is concerned, that output can't be told from a typed ISBN. What's new is that the various search boxes outside the Add Books page can now read Cat scramble. Excellent!

Mar 31, 2015, 4:23pm

Scrambled cat, mmmm

Mar 31, 2015, 10:19pm

Does that mean it is no longer necessary to "modify" our cuecat? Or "declaw" it? I have no idea what that means, or how to do it, so I'm hoping I can leave well enough alone.

Apr 1, 2015, 12:51am

Only if you want to use it other places than LT. The modification (called "declawing" or "neutering") isn't particularly complex - there's one particular chip inside, that needs one leg cut. If you Google it, or search on LT for that matter, you can get nice clear pictures that point to what needs doing; you can cut the leg with an Xacto knife or a pair of small pointy scissors (nail scissors or the like). I've done it both ways, the scissors are easier.

The advantage is that then the Cat reads bar codes and outputs what's coded there - numbers, letters, whatever. You can scan anything and it will be typed into wherever your cursor is. If you want to barcode other things, or read numbers off UPCs or whatever, you can.

Otherwise, if you don't modify the Cat, it outputs its scramble and you can only use it someplace that can translate that scramble into appropriate numbers. LT will recognize ISBNs and translate them properly, now in all the search boxes; it won't recognize UPCs or other bar codes, and will merely inform you that there is no ISBN that matches what you scanned in (there are a lot of posts being confused about that, in the CueCat Questions and Help group).

But if the only thing you use the Cat for is scanning ISBNs into LT, then yes, you no longer have any need to modify it. LT will now understand whenever you scan into a searchbox.

Apr 1, 2015, 2:02am

So what was the point of 'Cat scramble' anyway? Seems very weird to me.

Apr 1, 2015, 2:15am

They were given away "free" - but whenever you scanned something, it sent back information to the company that made them. This was discovered very quickly, and shortly thereafter the company went under - so now they try to send info but it doesn't go anywhere. The scramble was, I believe, mostly to keep you using their software.

Beyond that, they were supposed to work like QR Codes - scan certain codes and end up on a website, possibly individually targeted. They flopped spectacularly, partly because neutering them was so easy. As little bar code scanners, they're somewhat useful; for what they were targeted for, totally useless.

Apr 1, 2015, 8:59am

The searching my own Library with CueCat works great on my computer. Thanks for adding that feature.

Apr 1, 2015, 11:31pm

>10 jjmcgaffey: Thank you! Sounds more like neutering than declawing. Poor kitty.

Apr 2, 2015, 4:26am

I think declawing is the standard term - but in the LT group CueCat Questions and Help, someone complained (validly) that declawing is cruel and unnecessary (on real cats) and it would be better to use another word. So we settled on neutering. Or modifying, if one doesn't want to use a cat-appropriate word.

Edited: Apr 7, 2015, 5:23am

Now if you can only add bar code reading support for the iphone app for a quick add - that would be the most useful for me (that and taking multiple private photos of the book to produce a good, archival record and of course a detailed "condition" field instead of using notes/comments)...

Apr 15, 2015, 1:12am

>16 johnnyapollo: johnnyapollo
I have tried using the LibraryThing Scanner App together with the Barcode Scanner App for Android, and both seem to work well for scanning books into the LibraryThing catalogue. The only problem I've encountered is that the Barcode Scanner has difficulty scanning certain barcodes, which is an issue as our library uses its own barcode labels as we have a wide range of materials aside from books. Any possibility in the not-too-distant future that LibraryThing may develop its own barcode scanner in the form of an App? One idea that would be great to see come to fruition would be for an App to be developed that not only enables the user to add items via ISBN, UPC and other barcode information to the catalogue, but also allows the user to have the ability to scan a catalogued item's barcode to check an item out through the lending feature - perhaps in an ideal world :)

Apr 15, 2015, 5:44am

> 17
What I'm looking for is something that adds books real-time using a bar-code scanner. I know there's a hack using RedLazer to scan ISBNs into a list, emailing them to yourself and then using the import tool to add them as a batch. Typically I'm adding 20-50 books into LT at a time - these are books in my collection so there can be multiple editions, some of various condition. Right now I'm inputting the condition, etc for multiples of the same edition using the notes/comments field so it's better to use the manual input screen rather than a batch upload. I use the cue-cat to scan the books one at a time then fill in any condition notes - it's fairly time consuming. I've been thinking about scanning a whole stack using RedLazer and batching them on first pass, then doing a second pass to make edits but that requires moving books around a bit. If there's an iphone app you could inventory books where you store them and make all notes, etc as one go. My ideal app would do the following:

1. Scan ISBN (or manual input of SBN or older codes) and return results
2. Allow for the selection of the right edition if there are multiple results
3. Allow for the immediate photo input of the front, back and any interior, relevant pages (for instance, a remarque, bookplate or author signature)
4. Provide inputs for general condition, condition notes and any additional notes/comments
5. Group multiple unique copies under a single listing (in other words, create a single "parent" record that identifies the edition and holds the more generic system-common information about same; and spawn "child" records that are unique versions of the parent and those characteristics that make it/them unique including 3-4 above). - I'm currently using the notes to store this along with the box-numbering system (which could also be a barcode through the use of barcode labeler or other system generated sticker).

Wishful thinking, right? The cool thing about apps is that the very smart ones combine technology with what people holding a smart phone want or need to do with it - think about mobility and how you can ease a task through a simple workflow. I'm currently building similar apps for business inspection tasks. It doesn't make sense to have apps that require a lot of text/typing as smart devices aren't great at enabling that. But when it comes to checking boxes, using native capabilities (barcode scanning, the use of the camera, geo-location, converting speech-to-text, etc) and adding portability, you end up with a great, very useful app.

Apr 15, 2015, 6:34am

The latest I could find on that was

It's really off topic here.

Personally I'm still ticked off that one site I used a lot got a new fancy mobile site - except it's missing half the utility of the full site and that works fine on my iPad, so why do I now get the baby version and have to search all over the place to get the info I used to get right away? I had other issues with them and gave up. Back to buying my books from Amazon.

Apr 15, 2015, 10:30pm

>18 johnnyapollo: I'm pretty sure LT's app will do 1, 2, and 4 (at least, as notes). 3 has been promised, and the recent (last year) image redo was supposed to be a step toward it - though current images overload isn't promising! LT doesn't do 5, except (as you're already doing) through notes and comments. "Child" records are unlikely to ever happen. Either enter one record and notes for others, or enter each book separately (which is what I do - I feel it's both more accurate and simpler. YMMV). You're kind of asking to replicate the whole books/works system within each person's catalog, and I think that would be waaaay too data-heavy for the backend (which we're somewhat overloading as it is! Though it's images giving problems at the moment, not book data).

As noted in the post MarthaJeanne linked, Tim's talking about doing an online app, so basically it would be LT, and specifically the Add Books page, possibly rearranged for mobile utility. So pretty much what you're doing now.

I do do my adding in batches, mostly because the Add Books page forgets a lot of stuff whenever I leave it to edit a book. So I add at least everything that's going into a single collection, and has same/similar tags, before I go to edit (another option is having one tab open to Add Books and another to Your Books, and refresh the latter to get the latest adds to edit).

My general workflow is - set collections and tags; search, choose book; repeat, modifying tags/collections (on the left) as necessary. When I've done a batch, go to Your Books and sort by Entry Date; modify titles, authors, series info (I copy it from CK:Series to Comments, so I can sort/search on it), publication info, and covers (more or less in that order, though grouped - that is, I'll change all the titles that need changing, then all the authors, then all the series...).

For books, I don't put them into a separate collection - they're just in Your Library, and I sort by entry date. But that's when I can sit down and enter and edit them in one go. If I add a bunch of books (I import my ebooks in large batches, for instance) I'll put them into a separate collection (Working on or Temp Working), then edit them in batches and shift them to the appropriate final collection when the editing is complete.

I suspect my workflow would be about the same if I had an app - possibly enter them mobile, but do the editing on the comp (as you point out, typing any large amounts, and especially editing previous text, is a pain on mobile).

Apr 23, 2015, 3:00pm

I have never been able to get my CueCat to work. I'm using a Windows 8.1 laptop, latest version of Firefox. Are there instructions for this anywhere, or maybe someone made a helpful YouTube video?

Apr 23, 2015, 9:53pm

There's a group called CueCat Questions and Help that has a lot of walkthroughs as different people asked for help - but it's gone rather dormant recently and I don't think there are any Win8 posts. What is it doing or not doing? When you plug it in to the USB port, do you get the red light at the nose? It should start blinking after a few minutes (1-10), but if you don't get the light to start with your Cat is malfunctioning.

If you do get the light, and it stays steady on (if it does nothing but blink, try putting the Cat's nose to white paper and see if that will get it to stay on), put your cursor in some text field (LT search, or just a Notepad window), find a nice clear ISBN (not a UPC - make sure it starts with 978 or 979), start beyond one side, and drag the Cat across it. Nose down, and parallel to the bars - line up the bars with the Cat's bottom. Drag - and here it becomes variable. Some people drag too slow, some too fast - try varying your speed without changing angle or direction, as best you can. You should get a scramble of text, starting with .C3n and going on for quite a while. If it's in an LT search box, it should then search for the book (you may have to hit Enter first); if it's in Notepad, copy and paste to LT and hit Enter and it should search.

Tell me where along this path your Cat is failing, and I may be able to help.

Apr 16, 2021, 8:40pm

I have used Library Thing to catalog many books by entering the ISBN numbers, then I choose the appropriate record from any number of catalogs. How does it work with CueCat? Can anyone send me the contents of a record or two? I am just trying to find out the information that I will end up with before I have to make any changes and does it really end up to be faster than just entering the ISBN manually. Where does CueCat draw from?

Apr 16, 2021, 8:49pm

>23 anlivingston: The CueCat is just for scanning the barcode on the book instead of manually typing in the ISBN number. You'll have the same sources in the Add Books page to chose from and the same input data, depending on the source chosen.

May 14, 2021, 1:15am

It depends on how fast you can type... I got a Cat when I had some 3000 books to enter. It didn't get all of them - some were pre-ISBN, or pre-bar code at least - but the difference between typing 10-13 characters and getting them all in in one swipe (or two, or three...) was worth it to me. I still have my Cat but I don't use it much, for two or three books it's simpler to type. Or, of course, you can enter via the LT App, which scans barcodes even quicker than the Cat does.