Reading the info supplied it appears i have to have the data in a database and not in a spreadsheet.
No. You can have your data in various kinds of "true databases", in dBase files, in some email address book, in text files and in spreadsheets.
Instead of conversion, copy&paste or import you simply connect a Base document to what you already have. Base serves as a bridge between some tabular source of data and the office documents you want to fill with data (labels, serial letters, calculation models etc.). The data remain in the original source. Nothing gets converted nor imported. Base provides a link to your existing data.
Finally, you can build your office documents without bothering if the source is a spreadsheet, a text file or some database server.
For various reasons, spreadsheets are not the optimal type of data source but if you already have your spreadsheet, then make use of it.
Yesterday's topic where I describe how to turn a single sheet in a spreadsheet document into a dBase table which is editable directly in the data source window: https://forum.openoffice.org/en/forum/v ... 61#p292461