Cataloguing software - advice please

  njhux 14:56 28 Oct 2003

I'm a university student (yes I know, lazy, bleading off the state etc!) and I've got a large amount of reading to do over the next few years.

Basically I'm trying to keep a computerised record of what I read, so that I can pull up brief notes on each article easily, even in 2 years time. Essentially I need to catalogue the material under various headings and allow a fair bit of information to be recorded for each entry. But I really want to avoid having a large file on my hard drive full of word documents.

Can anyone recommend any software that would be useful?


  plsndrs3 15:03 28 Oct 2003

Using Nero, you can use these similar to a floppy - but they hold more detail. You could then sub-divide the CDs to only hold items within a relevant topic. The only issue is that you would not be able to put an index-style database onto the CD as it would need constant updating, but there is nothing to stop you running a paper-based index alongside if you prefer as this will identify immediately which CD you need to refer to. Another option could be to use a CD-RW first then move it over to a CD-R when it is full.

The only problem with this is lifespan, but this could probaly occur to just about any storage device you try.



  IanNiblock 15:07 28 Oct 2003

How about an access database?

you could store the name of the article, date that it was read, and notes about the article?

  Taran 17:19 28 Oct 2003

Any domestic database application is made for this kind of thing.

I'd suggest a variation on the theme of an Access wizard generated file.

If you open Access and create a blank database to begin with. Now select the option to create a table using the wizard. Click the option to use Personal and not Business tables then scroll down the list and you'll find one called Books. It contains much of what you'd need. Once the table has been made you can make a form using the form wizard and you have a simple means of tracking your book information.

There are certain fields or even separate tables you may like to add. I'd suggest the addition of 'date read', notes, course (which course the book is most relevant to), cross-reference (you can type in links to other books of similar content) and so on.

Even if you've never used Access, half an hour or so using the wizards should be enough to get you up and running with something workable. Remember to copy your database to CD for a permanent backup copy. This also has another advantage: the copy on CD will be timestamped on the date you create the backup, so even if you lose track of your backup copies you have a simple means of checking which may be the most recent just by using right click, Properties.



  Taran 17:28 28 Oct 2003

There's a sample Access database for books which is a more or less complete Access application and far more complex than you will ever need.

For the sake of a 1mb download though it is something for you to look at:

click here

Scroll down to the Books database and download it. Extract the contents of the ZIP file and double click on the Books.mdb file. You will get the prompt to convert the database to a newer version of Access. Agree with that, save the file to a new location and name and off you go. As I said, it's far more complex than you will ever need but it should give you a lot of ideas if you take the time to examine it.


  Pesala 17:34 28 Oct 2003

Building a website with your notes. HTML allows easy cross-referencing and graphics, MP3, etc. You could also share the workload and the material with other students on the same course. It also means that you have an offsite backup in case the worst happens to your PC.

  Taran 17:55 28 Oct 2003

That's a nice idea Pesala, but for full search capability you'd need to get into dynamic sites at some level (PHP, ASP and similar) or at least use a web editor that would allow you to generate searchable content (FrontPage has this feature, if your web host supports FrontPage extensions).

I like the idea of a communal resource, however, the beauty of a database is that you can query it using your own parameters: keywords, phrases, book titles, authors, dates, terms, lecture/course related, or any one of a number of alternatives that can be built in.

The important thing about a database is not just how you get information in; rather it is how and what you can get out of it that makes it such a useful tool.


  Pesala 18:00 28 Oct 2003
  Taran 19:01 28 Oct 2003

One easy solution that involves neither learning database applications or web editing is to just use Microsoft Word.

Set up a document (or even multiple documents) with bookmarks at each new Book entry that you've read. Add any comments, author name and so on in a short paragraph and at the head of the document you can set up a bunch of quick jump hyperlinks to the book in question.

Again, these 'jump to' links can be divided by category, date, author or any other system relevant to you and how you think.

Check out the helpfiles in Word for bookmarks and table of contents, index and similar for full information on how to set out any long document for easy navigation.


  njhux 19:29 28 Oct 2003

Thank you for all your help, particularly Taran.

I've now got multiple solutions and I think that the sample Access database recommended will do me proud until I learn how to create my own properly.


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