Collection managers are databases optimized for collectors. Tian's GCstar is a free tool that can not only help you manage your collections but also keep track of items you've loaned to friends and neighbors and even update your records automatically by fetching additional information online. It's an open-source project, but it's not some half-app work-in-progress.
GCstar opened with its main interface and a New Collection dialog showing numerous default selections. GCstar can manage any collection, which is to say a collection of anything, from digital snapshots on your hard drive to vintage cars in your garage. Music, toys and dolls, software ... just what do people collect, anyway? You can also import film-related data from various sources for managing DVD collections; one of GCstar's specialties. We selected a Book collection, named it, and saved it in the proprietary GCS file format. We clicked Add a Book, and the General tab displayed a data form with blank entry fields, an image window, and a box to enter a lengthy description. The Details tab offered acquisition dates, ratings, translations, and other in-depth records, while the Lending tab acts as your own personal librarian, with a drop-down list of Borrowers and e-mail addresses and a detailed Lending History. A fourth tab, Tags, let us add tags to entries, including associating Web pages and designating favorite selections. The attractive Preferences dialog offered display settings as well as image file paths and even articles ("the," "ein," "les," etc.) in various languages, including placing them at the end of titles so you won't have a lot of entries beginning with "The." Aside from a typical complement of editing tools and search filters, the most notable controls were a Play button on the toolbar, which played media files directly, and a button labeled Tonight, which randomly selected an entry from the database; another nod to video. Of course, you can use GCstar to manage totally different collections in one interface; just click My Collections and add as many as you like.
There are many collection managers to choose from; some free, some easy. GCstar is both. It's one of the best of the type we've seen.