Monday, June 30, 2008

IMUG meeting June 2008

The first Inmagic Museum Users Group meeting for 2008 was held on Wednesday 11 June at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. The theme for the meeting was using images with DB/TextWorks.

Barbara introduced the session by taking a photo using a digital camera, transferring the image to the computer and then linking the image to a record in DB/TextWorks. Susan Oliver from Werribee Park and Werribee & District Historical Society told the group about projects, undertaken at those organisations, to attach images to their catalogue records.

Approximately 40 people attended the meeting and there was much discussion about scanning and projects during the session as well as networking opportunities before and after the meeting. Networking is an important feature of IMUG meetings. In the photo Rod and Ted are busy sharing information.

Those present also had the opportunity to visit the images room at the RHSV where David showed the equipment used and some of the recently scanned images.

In her talk Barbara spoke about resolution and compression of images and different file formats. She showed how to link the image by typing the path to where the image is stored on the computer (or elsewhere) into the image field in the edit form. In the discussion a number of people said that when adding images to a batch of records they copied and pasted the path into the image field and just changed the name of the image.

From version 4 onwards it is also possible to scan a photograph and link the scanned image to the record dirctly from the database. Click in the image box on the Edit screen, go to the Records Menu and select Scan Image then follow the prompts. When the image is scanned and stored the path is added automatically to the record.

Another tip that Barbara gave us was that it is possible to specify the drive where images are stored so that the database will automatically check the drives nominated to locate the image and the drive does not have to be added in the path. This feature can be found by going to the Tools menu, select Options, select Imaging, then in the Image drives box type the letter of each drive where images are stored. Click OK to complete the action. There is additional information about this in the Imaging Tab (options) in the Help index under Image drive and path.

Barabara also showed how to add a picture box to any report form in order to view the image with the record.

The Help in DB/TextWorks is acually helpful. Searching for Image in the index should answer most questions about using images with the database.

At the end of the session Barbara showed how to make a simple lightbox for reducing the shadows and improving the quality of images when photographing small items. How to create an inexpensive photography lightbox and Do it yourself lightbox are two of the many articles available online on this topic.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Creating a Database for a Society

One of members is "a computer expert" and he / she says they can create a database for us and it won't cost us anything.
The above is a quote often heard.

Questions you should ask if you are tempted to go down this path

  • Why?
    As there are a variety of programs available for cataloguing collections, why create another?
  • How long has the person been a member of the society?
  • Is the person likely to remain a member of the society?
  • What will happen if the person leaves?
  • Will there be assistance if something goes wrong?
  • Does the person understand what is required for a database for cataloguing collections?
  • Will it be possible to easily alter the datastructure, if required?
  • Will it be possible to alter or create new search screens and report forms if required?
  • Does the person understand how the society will use the database for searching?
  • Can the records in the database be transferred into another database?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Examples of Collection Management Systems

(Collection Management Systems)
A selection of programs used in Australia for managing small collections

Database part of Microsoft Office suite - used by some organisations as catalogues.
(When designing data structure need to determine required size of fields).

Collections Mosaic
Software providing a datastructure for managing museum collections.
The runtime program was designed using Microsoft Access but Access is not required to operate the database.
The datastructure and forms cannot be altered and amount of date that can be entered and displayed in fields is restricted.
The software is used by many societies in Western Australia.

DB/TextWorks is a general database.
It is used throughout the world for managing small and medium sized collections.
A museums datastructure is available from Maxus for use with the software
but the structure can be modified to suit individual collections or
datastructures can be constructed for projects as required.
Windows 2000 is required for versions 8 onwards.
The software is used by many societies in Victoria.
DB/TextWorks replaces Inmagic Plus which is still used by some societies.

Excel is not a database - the program is a spreadsheet - but it is used by a number of organisations to record collection information.
The records can be imported into databases.

FileMaker Pro
A general database which can be used for cataloguing collections.
Datastructures, forms and report screens need to be constructed.
A number of societies are now using this software.

Heritage V
Program can be used on computers with Windows 98 operating system onwards, does not use fields and is often used for indexing projects.
Records can be transfered to Microsoft Word.
Heritage V is the Windows version of Heritage IV.

Microsoft Works database
A basic general database which can be adapted for cataloguing collections though the input options and report and search capabilities are limited.

Tabularium is a structure designed for use with Access for managing archive collections.
Access has to be installed on the computer for Tabularium to operate

Collection Management Systems

Why catalogue collections?

Record information about items in a collection
Sort the information in a variety of ways
Share information thereby providing greater access to the collection

What is a database?

A structured set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in a variety of ways
(from The Australian Oxford Dictionary)

How is information stored?
Information in databases is stored in fields
Indexes are used to retrieve the information
For example - Word indexes; Term indexes

How is information displayed?
Report forms are used to display the information contained in fields