Thursday, October 11, 2007

Considerations when choosing a database 4


What is the cost of the database software?
What computer hardware and software is required for the database to work?
Recent versions of databases often do not run on Windows 98 operating systems.Computer hardware costs may need also to be considered.

Support for the software

Are other similar groups using the software?
Does the company manufacturing the software offer support with forums, support section on website etc?
Does the company selling the software provide support for database users?
Is there a support group of users of the software?
Does the software company have a test version of the program that you can download and practise on for a short period?

Considerations when choosing a database 3

Presentation of data

How easy is it to design a report form?
Can report forms be designed to include images?
Can a set of data be easily sorted in a report form?
Can report forms be easily designed to include only a selection of fields? - for example
  • Records for public access
  • Inventory list
  • Donor information
  • Fields to transfer to a regional database

Search capabilities

What is the range of search options for the database?
Can search screens be designed to enable searching a number of fields at once?
Does the database software include Boolean search options for advance searching of the database?

Transferability of records

Can the database records be shared with other database programs - especially if there is opportunity to include records in a regional online database?
Can read only copies of the database be created for public use at the society or at another organisation?
As computer software and hardware changes rapidly, are the records in the database saved in a standard format allowing records to be transferred to another database if necessary in the future?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Considerations when choosing a database 2


Databases need to be flexible

Database structure
Can the database software be used to create different databases? - for example
  • Catalogues
  • Membership databases
  • Newspaper and other indexes
  • Policies, procedures database
  • Full text database

Can a standard database structure for cataloguing specific collections be incorporated as the database structure?

Is there a restriction on the number of fields in the data structure?

Is there a restriction on the amount of data that can be added in each field?

Can a database structure be easily modified if required?

Report forms & search screens
Can search screens and report forms be easily modified if required?
Can only selections of records in the database be made accessible for projects if required?
Can images, documents and websites be be linked to database records?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Considerations when choosing a database

Ease of use

As the software is going to be used by volunteers, often with limited computer experience, the database needs to be user friendly.
Is it easy to set up a database?
How easy is it to enter data?
Can edit forms be tailored to the needs of those working on the database?
Can instructions for entering data be included on the form?
Is it possible for only a selection of fields to appear on the edit screen for a specific project?
Is it easy to edit database records?
Can batches of records be modified?

Can validation lists be created for specific fields?
Can other validation options be applied to fields?

Record skeletons
Can record skeletons be used for use to save time when creating entries with common data in some fields?

Report forms
How easy is it to set up report forms and search screens for different situations?

Search screens
How easy is it to search for information in the database?

Help files
How easy are the help files to use?

Backing up
Can databases and records be easily backed up and exported?

Databases used for cataloguing local history collections

Technology and Historical Societies Report

In 2003 a survey of how societies affiliated with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) were using technology was undertaken. The survey looked at types of computers and peripherals used by societies, the software being used and how generally societies were using technology to preserve and promote collections. A copy of this survey is available in the Shared Files of the Computers & Cataloguing My Connected Community (mc2).

Collection Management was one of the areas investigated in the survey.

Of the 74 societies using computers for cataloguing:

  • Inmagic DB/TextWorks (55%) was the database most used by societies replying to this survey
    DB/TextWorks and its predecessor, Inmagic Plus, were used by 62% of societies.

  • Sixteen percent of the societies were using Excel spreadsheets for collection management.

  • Nine percent used Access and nine percent used FileMaker databases.

  • Five percent used Heritage IV.

  • Four percent used Microsoft Works database.

  • One percent used Claris Works and one percent used Collections Mosaic

These figures are four years old and many more societies are now using databases to catalogue their collections, but Inmagic DB/TextWorks is still the software used most widely in Victoria for cataloguing historical society collections.