Some people use programs that are already invented. One is called ArtWorks I believe (the cheaper one) and then there is another more complex and expensive one called ArtSystems. I haven't checked in years for others but I am quite sure there are plenty more by now. You're idea about taping something to the back works too.
I have a database that I built myself. It's not a program. But like you said, you could use a spreadsheet in Access or something like that (I'm not sure what the Mircosoft programs are for databases are - I know Works is one.)
I used to do it all in paper logs. I'm glad I did that so I had data to enter into my database!
My database is quite complex and custom made for what I need. It was built in MySql and PHP and is accessed through a web browser. I made an interface so I can add data easily. It keeps track of...
Work number, title, size, special shape, date completed, medium, series, type, where created, where shown, where/if published, images/detail images, current location, price, availability status, sale type, date sold, sold to, sold for, visible on site Y/N?, notes.
All this interacts with my website, but of course most of this data is hidden from the user's side view.
I did all this so I would not have to enter data in more than one place.