Shiawassee Amateur Radio Association ~ W8QQQ
Whiskey 8 Quack Quack Quack
Baker College; Center for Technical Studies, Bldg 16; Room near 1632 (look for us); Owosso, MI 48867
SARA's Ham Library Concepts
Almost all ham operators begin to build a small personal reference library of electronic information. What materials do they collect? What seems to be the most popular and of actual use to a ham? Almost all ham libraries will have miscellaneous materials from the ARRL, the most popular being "The Radio Amateur's Handbook". This book has basic information to advanced materials along with construction information from most of the areas in amateur radio. Also, reference data on many electronic components. Then they include various other books from the ARRL like: "ARRL Antenna Book"; "Basic Radio"; "Understanding Basic Electronics"; "Basic Antennas"; "Ham Radio for Arduino and PICAXE"; and etc. A good subset appears to be always prominent. There are many other suppliers of technical books of special interest to the ham radio operator - just start searching the internet to find these sources. It seems (2015) that electronic books and files are becoming a mainstay, as well.
Do not forget to checkout your local library to determine what you may like to parse and you can use them for free. Sometimes state libraries and college libraries can add to the variety of the material. The ability to checkout materials may be an issue, but I have never had an issue with using the materials inside any library. Sections on engineering works can be extensive. I use the local University's engineering library quite frequently and make a small annual donation back to the university.
Library Material Form: (Media Type)
The form (media type) of the materials one wishes to collect in a personal library needs consideration. There is the historical favorite of a 'paper collection' in the form of books, magazines, data sheets and catalogs. As a collector for over 50 years, I can attest that the collection can get very large and heavy, I have several hundreds of pounds of paper reference material in my collection. Some key items deserve your consideration and selection, however, I would strongly suggest electronic versions for most of your collection, I have about 100 computer CDs (files) of various ham materials. This form of material is much more easily organized and is definitely easier to search. Also, information from the internet can be easily added to this format.
I suggest you join the ARRL just to gain free access to the entire QST magazine collection, plus the other benefits are very helpful. The entire collection is searchable and easily referenced and will provide information on most topics in ham radio. They are many, many benefits to joining the ARRL, but this is one of my personal perks that membership provides. The ARRL has a large amount of free information to anyone interested, but with the addition of membership, additional information is added that is a huge benefit. Also, the ARRL membership is good for the support of the hobby.
I have a favorite site to start looking for reference material on almost any topic, http://www.wikipedia.com. You can use their search function to find large amounts of information on most topics. A large amount of reference material on components is available. Start searching a topic on Wikipedia and then look at the "references" being used (at the bottom of the topic). Use these references as an additional list to look further online or at a physical library.
Depending on your interests, you may consider speciality magazines: QEX ~ electronic experimenter; and NCJ ~ National Contest Journal for contesting information, both are from the ARRL.
Then consider magazines (I am sure there are others but start here): QST; CQ Amateur Radio; Popular Communications; CQ VHF; World Radio; Nuts and Volts; and many older magazines, 73 and Ham Radio for example are available on computer CDs. Watch for club newsletters, many can be found online for free and can be a good source of information. Professional magazines can be used for additional information on electronics. Checkout the military training manuals for radio and electronics, many are online for free.
Computer files for mathematics, electronics, antennas and mechanical construction can be of interest, this should include component datasheets and many sales catalogs for ham equipment. You can learn quite a bit from reading all these materials. Take your time and read as much as you can in multiple sessions, your knowledge will grow exponentially as you move forward. It seems the more you learn, the faster you learn the details. Just remember it is a hobby and should be taken on as a happy experience.
To help keep costs lower, watch hamfest tables and used book places for books that may be of interest. SARA will be adding some basic reference material in the near future to the "files" section of our Yahoo Group (see logo & link at bottom of SARA Home Page. These probably will be in the form of Excel worksheets (copyright Microsoft Corporation). Learning to use spreadsheets to enhance your information is highly encouraged. The spread sheet can be used as a simple database for sorting through your information and as a mathematical calculation aid. There are free programs that allow you to read Excel sheets and free spreadsheet programs for your use, try Open Office. Also, there are other programs (cheaper) that will work with your files (I use 'Think Free'). Watch our Web site as the SARA information grows and try to look inside the spreadsheets to see how they work. As always, learning as you grow makes the progress relatively painless.
Keeping large amounts of information organized can become difficult. I suggest you look in the SARA Web Links and find the software program link for 'AZZ File'. This is a shareware spinoff of the old Microsoft Word Index Card file, but it is on steroids! Think of a 3" x 5" card system (they can be expanded to much larger sizes) with categories of topics, terms, or whatever and the card containing detailed information on that category. Think of several different stacks of these card for different types of information (files). The detailed information on the cards, could be text, equations, web links, pictures, reference titles, sound or video files, etc. Each collection of cards can be 'viewed' and searched for terms or words. That is the concept of AZZ File. I am sure if you look at the program, you will find many, many uses for it. It can be your personal ham data reference 'library card file'. I find I use it for several of my hobbies, not just Ham Radio. I am sure you will enjoy this program if you give it a look! Hint: Make sure to copy the reference spot (link) where you get information to put on these cards... you will want to find it again and this saves a large amount of time in trying to find your original source!