Friday, 9 November 2012

Libraries are so good. And databases, too.

I had a really nice and very intense day of sitting in the library and reading and taking notes yesterday - which felt absolutely fine.

I have started to take notes for each book that I store in my bibliography database so I can have an excerpt and check again if necessary where something came from, and I now somehow sort of regret that I haven't started this years and years ago. I'm still working with EndNote and will continue to do so, I have never gotten onto good terms with Zotero, though it seems to be a good (and free) choice. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have also never really tried hard to get onto good terms with Zotero.)

And let me state again that I am a huge fan of databases, both for bibliography and for pictures - because having a searchable, tagged or keyworded heap of information is much better than having an unorganised, non-searchable heap of information.

So if you have pictures, or collect pictures for research reasons, and read books for research purposes, I thoroughly recommend you to get a database thingie - there are heaps of free ones on the Internet - and at least note down the following: who took the picture (if it wasn't you) or the book it came from (including the page) if it's a scan, and for books you read the author/editor, book title, year, and a short note of how you liked it. You can put in much more - excerpts, keywords (both for book and picture), picture captions, a note of how you liked the book, further citation traces to follow, where the book is located, when you looked at it, or whatever would be good but is not on my radar at the moment. But having at least a note of the minimum things will mean you being able to remember whether you had that book in your hands already... or not.

Having said that, I should probably spend a little time on the care and feeding of my databases today.


Phiala said...

Mendeley is almost just the right thing. Except it isn't either.

I'm almost ready to switch entirely to Mac so that I can use OSX-specific tagging and organization tools for all my files and photos and information.

It's important, and ridiculously hard to do well.

a stitch in time said...

Thanks to your comment, I have taken a look at Mendeley... and promptly found some other things to look at. I will report once I have formed an opinion : )