books archiving and checking out books like in the Library.

miket11

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Oct 27, 2011
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Hi. need advice on either how I can make or get a ready software. I need something like what Libraries have. Nothing as sophisticated though. I basically need a way to keep archive of all the Books, DVDs, and CDs maybe attach like a picture of the book as well. Be able to search for the material, etc.
Also, I need to be able to check out the material to people. so basically almost just like in the library. get their name, etc. what book they checking out, etc.
Please let me know your advice. Maybe there is something I can create myself using Microsoft Office. or quickbooks?

Thanks all in advance
 

Ralston18

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Take a look at MS Access database.

You can put together a very nice simple system just using the wizards.

Plus any data on spreadsheets can be easily copied in or accessed directly.

Forms and subforms work well.

We have a family member is is a librarian and she has a similar set up for her collection of children's books. Basically all the usual data is entered along with a cover photo via the web.

Easy to set up searches by title, author, publisher, year, and even just contains the word "Rabbit" for example.

Very doable. Do not let the word "database" be intimidating. Just take little steps at first.

There are some good online tutorials for Acess (or any database for that matter) that will help you learn, plan, and do.
 

miket11

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Thanks for your input. Can you please specify what do you mean by "You can put together a very nice simple system just using the wizards"? are you referring to Microsoft access?
 

Ralston18

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Yes. I am referring to Microsoft Access but other database products have similar features/functions.

A wizard is a built in tool that will automatically generate a "standard/generic" form or report based on the data fields in a given table or tables. Actually it will even help create the basic tables if you are starting completely from scratch.

In many cases, the wizard will guide you step-by-step through the process so you can make some basic decisions about the end result. E.g., how an input form appears, how a report is presented.

Once the wizard is finished you have your form or report which, fortunately, you are able edit for cosmetic purposes or for user friendliness. For example, I often found that the wizard created output reports were very generous with spacing, margins, page breaks, and so forth. A basic list type report would stretch for several pages instead of maybe just two or three. Does not take too long to get a sense of it all and edit accordingly.

Once I understood the wizards and how the results would be I just used the wizard to create a starting template and then edited the template. Editing can be done by dragging and dropping on the screen or by going "behind the scenes" into the code/script that is used for the template.

Try the following:

If you already have your catalog in a spreadsheet you have two options. 1) You can import the data into Access directly (which will preserve the original spreadsheet) or 2) you can link back to the spreadsheet to get the data. I used both methods, generally the latter, because most people were more comfortable working via a spreadsheet and I needed more database power to do custom searches and reports. Excel is often used for database like functions and can support such use fairly well. Tends to get cumbersome after a while with large tables and multiple tables.

Create a starter Excel spreadsheet if necessary and enter in the basic information: title, author, publisher, date, etc.) for a couple dozen books. Then you can experiment and test as warranted to learn how it all works.

Linking is a bit tricky sometimes so do an import. Access (could be some other database app) will lead you through the import process and create a table for you. Will look very much the same as the spreadsheet. As with most applications nowadays, you just have to learn the features available via the tool bars and "drop down" choices at the top of the screen. Same concept used by Word and Excel which you may be already familar with.

Then you can run the Form wizard to see what the resulting form looks like. You can use the wizard to generate a report or two. (Just preview the report first as it could run many pages.) Do all that as a learning effort and focus on one objective at a time.

What becomes really useful is that you can create Query's to search your database using any of fields in the table. You can look for a specific value or a "like" or "contains". Some part of a word being in the title perhaps.

Then you can create menu's with one-click buttons that can prompt you to enter a search word, run a query, and generate a report of all books by some selected author. Or show the book covers of all books about rabbits. Then click on the photograph to get details about the book. (As is done in online shopping applications) The "rabbit query" to book cover to book details is a bit more involved to be honest but a meaningful application and use of a database.

After that you can create new tables that could be the "members" of your library and allowed to check out books etc. That all becomes significantly more complicated but quite doable as you learn the database mechanics. You will not be able to do everything all and once in one fell swoop.

There are rules regarding database design and the rules are quite valid. One rule being that data "is not duplicated". For example a spreadsheet may contain an author's name 20 times for twenty different books. To change the name would require you to update 20 records. Doable but suppose there were 200 books/records or 2,000. Yes you could do a search and update query but the better way is to just go to one record and make the change. Technically authors names would be in a different table and related to the book table by some number or index. Each book would have the author's index number instead of a name. So if author #1's name changes you change it just once in the author table and the books in the book table with author #1 "know about the change". Anyway that is going off track and not all that important right now. Lots of database tutorials to read and YouTube demonstrations to watch online. Microsoft's Access books have a good introduction in many cases.

Again focus on just one objective at a time and always keep the base data backed up. The latter is always not only a good idea but a necessity nowadays. Keep the backups someplace safe and make sure that they work by doing regular tests.

And back up the database also along the way well as you enhance and expand it..... Access has built-in document functions that will provide details about the format of the tables, queries, reports, forms, menus, etc. Very handy to look at to determine what may have gone astray.

Did not mean to go into the TL:DR world.... However, databases are often thought of as overly complicated and avoided in lieu of a spreadsheet. (Especially if the word "relational" is used.) Spreadsheets are fine, no argument there, but they are a different tool for different purposes. Past a certain point a database is a better choice. You have the freedom to make the database the way you need it to be.
 
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