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The library is a collection of mostly computer books that we have assembled over the years through our day to day donations. It is currently housed on 3 double sided shelves in the Library, near the Office supplies area. Housed on part of one shelf is a "reference only" section. There is a list of Books We Want to look out for (or request). Currently we are saving books on computer languages and other general subjects, but not specific manuals for operating systems or hardware. Discussion of the library largely takes place on the bookworms email list. It is under the supervision of the Education (Education committee). At this point, there is no process or policy for checking out books, but they are available for staff and volunteers to read here, and for core volunteers to check out using the Borrow book.

Library Mission

"The Free Geek library serves as an informational and educational resource for the FG community, to further the educational and reuse parts of FG's mission."

This mission statement is a work in progress, a reflection of the bookworms group's understanding of the library's place in the Free Geek ecosystem and overall mission.

Sections of the Library


WIRED magazine

This is for use while at Free Geek, not to be checkout. WIRED is/was a popular magazine of tech culture and is notable for its eye-blisteringly loud design. Enjoy these time capsules.

1. Leave a book/take a book section

These are for FG community members to read and share for recreation and aren't really part of the "permanent collection." They are on the first 3 shelves just this side of supply door labeled, "bus books" or "kids". They won't be catalogued, and are meant to come and go as people leave books. The three shelves should not be allowed to overflow; if it gets overfull, thin out older books and put extra books on the free table in library or see item 4 below for re-placement of books on this table over two weeks.

2. Miscellaneous textbooks

Interesting what textbooks we have, right? Maybe we have something you need? Out-of-date history book?

3. Nontechnical Nonfiction

Nonfiction books that don't require (much) computer/technical knowledge to read: histories, etc. for the general public. Often about computer culture topics.

4. Free table

This is the place for placing books that are too obsolete for our purposes, duplicates or on topics we do not need. There is, also, a "free table" just outside the store, where by books not taken from Library free table are placed. Those, usually, at end of day left are recycled.

5. Incoming books

We emphatically DO NOT WANT all books that come in. As mentioned above, we don't want specific manuals for operating systems or hardware. See Books To Cull for more guidelines. If you are really uncomfortable making this judgement, see if you can get a second opinion. Incoming books go on top of the shelf not on the floor.

6. Wishlist

For those who are not using the wiki page for Books We Want, to solicit general ideas.

7. Box for CGL materials

Materials for consideration by the curators of the Classic Gaming Library. No games are available currently, but anyone wanting to voluteer should contact Dave Haskins.


Books that could help illustrate the equipment that is in the Free Geek Museum, on things like Commodore 64, TI, TRS-80. Those that we had are next to their corresponding computer in museum. Signs for most of the museum equipment have been made and are attached to them. Referencing of books is still to be done for an enterprising person. TO BE SHELVED and/or Returned are cataloged and labeled books - they may be newly cataloged or they may be just returned & checked in. PROBLEMS CATALOGING books needs some more attention to enter in the DB. See "Basic Initial Cataloging" then "Cataloging Problems Guide" section for more details.

9. Electronics

Some of these old electronics books are pretty cool. Not sure what anyone would use them for, but we have a small section of them.

10. In catalog

Please don't touch these books! They have been cataloged but need labels and then shelved.

11. Reference Only

This section is for in-house use only, these books are not to be checked out. The shelf for this category is behind library computer station.

12. Other

The remaining shelves are very loosely categorized; they will be more organized once they are cataloged (we're shelving according to the Library of Congress call #).

Working in the Library

If you are interested in working in the library, THANKS!

Very First Thing, every time:
Get rid of everything that does not belong in the library. Cups lying around, random bits of hardware, trash, books about Fortran. Tidy the workstation space. Maybe even sweep?

Breaking down the call number

Shelving Books:

Books are shelved according to the Library of Congress call number, on the label on the spine. See image to the right for how to file by these numbers. The one exception are call numbers beginning with QA. These will be shelved per QAnn.nn and then second line of printed label. example QA76.76 N86 1999 goes after QA76.76 I83 1999

Other stuff, according to your interests:

  • Restock the free table from the free table pile. Cleaning up the free table when you do so can make a big difference.
  • Breaking down & recycling battered boxes
  • Basic initial cataloguing - there is a "to be catalogued" section on the shelving behind librarian work station.
  • If you feel like you have a good sense of what books are still useful, go through the incoming books (use Books To Cull as a guideline).
  • Documentation of the library software, or work on Library FAQ
  • Make better lighting happen
  • Solicit donations of books we'd actually want (See Books We Want)
  • Talk to volunteers about what books they would like to see, record it in Books We Want

Library Software

We use OpenBiblio as our library software. OpenBiblio is an automated library system written in PHP containing OPAC, circulation, cataloging, and staff administration functionality. There are a number of other sites using this software. We will also be installing an extension to search outside libraries by ISBN number which will make cataloging the books MUCH easier.

The library server is in the DMZ, so it is available both internally and externally. There is also a diskless terminal in the library area with a barcode reader so that the books can be cataloged.

Tasks ahead
Arrange and catalog the books
Document and/or modify Library software as needed
Jes has a list of wishlist fixes
Basic initial cataloguing in progress
Decide on criteria for checkout and retention of books
Develop FAQ for library users and maintainers

Future of Free Geek Library

Kathie,Free geeks Librarian, on this day of 8-7-2010, has added this section for staff review in determining the future of our Library. Going by an "informal" survey of lab and library usage, I strongly recommend that we keep the library open, but consider the following:

  • avoid, for next 6 months at least, taking in any new books unless we have room for them in free books areas.
  • updating our books to more current editions. Presently, most of our books were published prior to year 2000 and thus need to be replaced with newer editions. We have many that are 1990 and up, which need replacing also.
  • Daniel Johnson e-mailed us about an authors possible donation. If I have not processed the authors books, someone will need to see if there are newer editions to what we already have and get them replaced. contact him at
  • search for and pull, deleting from data base, any copy over two.
  • sort and thin out the magazines. Put those two old on "free shelf" first or on "free" table outside store.
  • continue external and internal advertising of our library. example:Signs in each bathroom increased Library usage.
  • continue to canvas the volunteers for books they want/need. If we get our own library data base, setting up a special page to record these needs would be great. OR We need some quick and easy way to record and periodically check/fill requests. This need not be a major thing, but would help to get books, like, windows 2000 or Access etc. reused better. I have started a list on next page.
  • update the "books to be cull list" in library wiki.
  • set-up a special "return books" form for volunteers who only have an address in their data base information.
  • check the "misc. mind teaser topics" section (non-cataloged books)for cataloged books with labels and put those found back on proper shelf, per label number.

Special Book Requests

The following are requests for books that different volunteers have requested. I recommend that the new librarian or library intern check this list before processing incoming books.

  • Paul E. Bunn wants a manual on Windows Access. contact him at or 503-475-2296