Help Me Set Up a Database for Document Offers
February 13, 2015 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to set up a web-based system that will allow me to enter document records and make them available to multiple groups of logged-in users on a set schedule so they can select documents they are interested in. After all is said and done, I want to be able to access a sorted list of the documents so I can get them where they need to go easily.

I work at a public library which used to be a depository, but is now doing away with its government documents collection. I am now in charge of this project. In order to do this, I need to list each document in the collection, then send the list to our state's depository, where they will look through it and see what items they would like us to send them. Next, the remainder of that list goes out to other depositories in the area, who tell me what they're interested in. Finally, I gather all the listed materials, send out the ones going to the various depositories, and discard the rest.

My predecessors did this via a series of Word documents and emails. However, I get the impression that timelines weren't clearly defined and feet were dragged. Also, this would simply be a laborious process, with a lot of manual, time-intensive, and error-prone work. I would like to automate the process. As a transitional option, I've been using Google Forms and Sheets, but I don't believe Sheets is really built for this kind of task, and managing it that way still involves a lot of sorting and copying and pasting and other gymnastics. What I envision is a system like this:

1. I (and the pages assisting me) would use a web-based form to enter document records.

2. Each week, at a set time, the records entered that week would "go live" on the system. The state library representative would then be able to log in and review the documents available. They prefer to review the lists on paper, so it would be good to have a "printable view."

Each record would feature a button or checkbox which could be used to request any available document. Selecting an item would remove it from the "pool" of things being offered, so no one else would be able to claim it, and would add it to a list of documents to be received.

3. After a period of a few weeks, the remaining documents in which the state library has not expressed interest would be made available to the other depositories for potential selection.

4. Finally, after perhaps six weeks altogether, the documents would become "private," and everything would be sorted into lists indicating which documents go to which depositories, and which ones will be discarded.

This way, we can focus on simply entering the records and getting the items where they need to go, rather than bugging people to get back to us, formatting document, sorting lists, sending out emails, and adjudicating potential disputes over more desirable items.

I have a good grasp of technology, but only a small amount of programming knowledge. I have other responsibilities here at work, so something not incredibly time-consuming to set up is strongly preferred, and I have no budget, to speak of. I've considered commercial database systems, but pricing is a factor there. I've also considered using a CMS, but am not sure if there are any that would really work for my purposes.

I really appreciate your assistance!
posted by hmmnathan to Technology (2 answers total)
You could do this with Google spreadsheets hooked up to a form. Their spreadsheets have some advanced filtering functions that Excel doesn't have to give you those database-esque conditional views.
posted by bleep at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sharepoint can do this. It's relatively easy to learn, and should work really well. It's the underpinnings of most Intranets.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:24 AM on February 13, 2015

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