I have way too much stuff – so much in fact that it’s often difficult to keep track of it all. Rather than get rid of some of it though, I’ve done what any self-respecting person who calls himself a geek and a collector would do: I turned to the internet.
In the process I managed to find four open source programs that all call themselves “collection managers.” That is, they all claim to make it easy to catalog and keep track of your collections of things like books, movies, and CDs.
So without further comment let’s see how well they all meet those claims. While most of them are for Linux users, some also available for Windows.
(Linux) is a Gnome application specifically aimed at cataloging books. It has a simple, clean interface and it’s certainly easy to use, but it lacks many of the little frills and features of the other programs on this list. You can add books by either entering the ISBN, the author, or the title. Alexandria then searches a number of book-related websites to retrieve additional information. You will inevitably run into a book that the software can’t find, but Alexandria remedies this by allowing you to add a book’s information manually. You can also organize your books into categories, and keep track of loaned materials.
When you’re done entering your books you can then export to a handful of formats, including Tellico’s native format (which is examined in greater detail below). Overall, Alexandria may be the right choice for the beginner computer user who just wants a bare bones way to organize their personal libraries. But the existence of these other collection managers with a broader range of features and scope make it basically obsolete for the rest of us.
Griffith (Windows, Linux) is fairly similar to Alexandria, although it’s designed specifically for movies and has a bit more of a complicated interface. All the standard features of a collection manager are on display but not much else. It does have built in support for a wide number of languages, which is great for international users, and it downloads quite a bit of information about each item – at least more than I expect from this kind of program. But its overall look just seems a bit too cluttered to me, especially given the fact that it’s a Gnome application.
Tellico (Linux) is a program that has garnered a fair amount of attention and has the distinction of being the only app on this list specifically designed for KDE. The first thing you’ll probably notice about Tellico – and which really sets it apart from Griffith and Alexandria – is how flexible it is. It comes packaged with support for books, comic books, videos, music, coins, stamps, cards, wines, video games, and board games. Should you have slightly more obscure collecting interests, Tellico allows you to make a custom collection type. It’s not as automated as feature full as the premade collection types (which is to be expected), but it’s certainly a better option than learning to program to write your own database software.
What strikes me most about Tellico is how much deeper it is compared to the previous two programs. It can import and export a wide variety of formats, and I feel as if there’s a lot more to fiddle with. In fact, the developers seem to openly encourage any kind of tinkering, from changing basic configuration settings, to creating custom themes, to editing the script itself. Tellico’s online manual has a great deal of information – just about everything you would ever want to know about this program – so I suggest you check it out.
GCStar (Linux) is the last program in our little list and possibly the best. As you can probably see, it integrates all the features that by now I have come to expect as standard in collection manager software. But it wraps these features in a very shiny package, rivaled only by Tellico in this area. It originated as GCfilms, a program specifically designed to catalog movie collections, but it has since expanded to cover a variety of other collection types. GCStar also boasts customization options similar to Tellico’s, which make it a great choice for experienced collectors.
So there you have four easy to use and helpful collection managers that I hope will make your collecting career a little easier. If not, there are plenty of other options out there. During my searching I was surprised, to say the least, at the number of programs that all do the same basic thing in basically the same way. Choosing your favorite then becomes an almost arbitrary matter, usually yielding to personal taste and comparisons of their minute differences. I chose these four programs only because they are easy to find, set up, and use. Nevertheless, there may be a better program for your personal needs and/or preferences, so please don’t hesitate to mention it in the comments below.
(By) Abraham Kurp was introduced to open source software a few years ago and it was love at first site. When not preaching the virtues of open source he enjoys reading classic science fiction, playing obscure video games, dabbling in programming, and of course writing.