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Creating an index (not portfolio related)
Old 07-04-2014, 11:16 AM   #1
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Creating an index (not portfolio related)

ER members seem to have an inexhaustible wealth of information and experience, so here's a question.

A company in a small niche business is friendly to local hobbyists, so I would like to help them with a project they have had on the drawing board for years, so any suggestions would be welcome.

They have a large stock of magazines on the subject, going back quite a few years. They also have a large stock of books, going back decades.

None of this material is organized, just crammed on available shelf space, and none of it exists in electronic format -- only paper. That makes it nearly impossible to look up a topic and get the really valuable information contained in the publications.

I want to create an index to the material. I see the first step as creating a spreadsheet with the relevant bits (title, publication, date, etc.) and then sorting it various ways to produce useful files. Of course, a relational database would also be an option.

Has anyone ever tackled this sort of task?

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Old 07-04-2014, 12:04 PM   #2
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I did some thing similar back in the mid '80s. We had a bunch of instruments that had to be tracked/inventoried. It was all paper stored in files cabinets. I used a DOS flat file DB that allowed fields to be created for things like serial numbers, type, location, date checked in/out, disposal etc. It would create reports, labels and could be searched. But this was before spreadsheets.

MS SQL server express is free, and there is a list of opensource DBMs, Download Free Windows Database Open Source Software - SourceForge

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Old 07-04-2014, 05:25 PM   #3
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I used RBase back in the 1980s, but I suspect what you need could easily be done using an Excel spreadsheet as a database and then various lookups and reports.

I've often used Excel as a database, and pivot tables for reports, but more for summarizing data.
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Old 07-05-2014, 08:00 AM   #4
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Yes I did some of this in my career.

The first step is defining how the data are related. I'm kind of guessing as what you want to do. Do you have many topics? Are they related to 0-many articles in 0-many magazines or books? The location of where the article is, in what magazine or book and its physical location is an attribute of the book or magazine.

The tools are out there and as suggested many are free. You may want to start very simple, many people are familiar with Excell. Assuming they will self serve, it may be a great front end tool and can serve as a database. Start small you can always change the database later. Of course you'll want some type of backup too.

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Old 07-05-2014, 08:12 AM   #5
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My wife had an app where you could take a pic of the bar code and it would download all of the book information.

I think this should work for at least the newer material.

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Old 07-05-2014, 08:19 AM   #6
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I have done quite a bit of database work. DB2, SQL Server, Oracle, Access, etc.

You need to be able to reference the material by whatever people might search for it. And be able to find the actual physical piece, once you find it in the reference table.

Title, Author, subject and even some key words. You may be able to do it in Access (or Excel), it seems small. Both are is cheap.

List all of the attributes that you need to reference. Also other information that may help, like article date, master publication, etc. Maybe a spot on the shelf where the material can be found.

Then, it's just data entry. Once the date is in Excel, you can slice/dice/sort/import it most anywhere.
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Old 07-05-2014, 10:29 AM   #7
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Thanks, everyone.
I've done enough stuff like this that I understand all about the mechanics of it; was just hoping there might be some nifty new tool available that I didn't know about.

Sounds like there isn't, so the grunt work begins.
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Old 07-05-2014, 02:37 PM   #8
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You should consider converting some of the items to PDF files. Someone might have a suggestions as to how to best accomplish that too.
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Old 07-05-2014, 04:02 PM   #9
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It seems to me that the bigger part of this job is getting the material into digital format. I have not done such a large scanning job, but I would expect that any scanners capable of doing the digitizing likely also have features to help with the indexing and cataloging.

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