A friend of mine who is a researcher asked me to help them find a tool to manage their library of books, papers, and documents. They'd like a free tool for Windows that allows them to create a custom data object such as a 'Chapter' which they can add an abstract and their personal notes to. They'd like it to be also able to link through to other objects based on shared factors, such as the different chapters belonging to one book or tag them with keywords to make them searchable.

They're not a technical person, so ideally it would have to be a user-friendly GUI, no programming required, and doesn't require them to go through the command-line, whether it's a local app or a web app isn't an issue, wither will work.


  • Run on Windows
  • Be free
  • User-friendly GUI
  • Allows the adding of custom data objects either through a form or XML/JSON schema
  • Allowing linking between different objects
  • Searchable


  • Be easy to setup
  • Allow import/export for datasets


  • Allow syncing with a remote database if we choose to host the dataset elsewhere in the future


  • Require them to go through extensive setups, some tools I've looked at would require them to install libraries like Anaconda, this would make it difficult for them to maintain the tool

  • Require them to run/host a database for the tool to hook into

The closest tool I've found to what they need would Mendely, a reference management system, which provides much of the functionality they would want but not enough freedom.

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