Using DabbleDB to Keep Track of Sources

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for awhile, but I wanted to share how I manage a problem that I was encountering. Towards the beginning of the year, I began to realize I needed a way to keep track of the published resources (mostly books), that I was using in my research. I didn’t want to lose track of them just in case I needed to refer back to them. Fortunately, I live near the Tennessee State Library & Archives, but even researching their catalog began to be cumbersome as I was needing to do this each time I prepared to visit.

So, I turned to DabbleDB. I first came across DabbleD about 18 months ago I think, and given my preference for web 2.0 tools, the idea of an online database management system was highly appealing to me. At first, I felt limited, but then they opened it up so that you could have a free database as long as you had your information in the public domain. Fine by me.

So, I began to create my database and the current result is a database of all the books I consult, or want to make sure I consult, as I do my genealogy research. The fields I created are for tracking the county a resource covers, what topics it covers, which libraries hold it (not an exhaustive list, but some of my usual suspects), and a citation field so I can create bibliographies.

Then, I have an online link to my reports and then the list can be exported to PDF. Some examples:

  • Let’s say I am about to go to the Tennessee State Library& Archives – I can use my database to create a list of books that they hold so I can have quick referral.
  • Or, what if I get an email from a fellow researcher that wants to know what resources I’m familiar with for Washington County, North Carolina. I can provide them a link to my bibliography. The PDF version is quite nice too.

So far, this is working out very well! Anytime I make a trip to a library, I document the books I’ve consulted in my database. Anytime I’m doing a web search and I find a book that I am interested in, I put it in my database.

What you don’t see in those lists either is my link to Worldcat.org. Having a link in the database directly to the record helps me quickly check for other places to look. Also, Worldcat has an easy link to grab a properly formatted citation for any resource in the catalog so I capture that citation in case I need a formal printed list. Excellent resources and I highly recommend them for keeping track of your materials. If you’re interested in seeing my other reports, I have a link to my overall database in my blogroll list on the side of this blog – “Taneya’s Genealogy Books Database.”

I next need to create a way to track journal articles as I’m starting to use more of these as well. Look for that enhancement in a later post.

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