Friday, June 01, 2007

A Relative's Season

My last post mentioned tackling the Vertical File. It has turned into a weekly project as I have to fit it into my other activities. However, this is the "season" to finally do something about the print file. The Vertical File in libraries is like the oddball relative: nice but not quite fashionable, the one invited to social functions because your mother insists and someone is drafted to talk to them at least once. They usually end up in a corner taking up space, consuming food, and a little lonely. Sometimes they are the ones who are actually the most surprising of all. That's the VF.

The good news is that we should consider the VF to have had a makeover. Many libraries abandoned the print collection for the online links, although it wasn't called a VF anymore. I have discovered that yes much of the material in the VF has been transformed. For instance most government documents which ended here are indeed online. A little teaching on using will bring the material to light for most students. Much of the information has been subsumed by databases such as CQ Researcher and Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center.

Yes, sometimes the VF has been the home of material catalogers refused to touch--too few pages and all that. However, other catalogers have "touched" them and a quick look on WorldCat should provide some copycataloging for some primary documents otherwise hidden to the serious searcher. Material about Countries is also available online. And I'm thinking that anything which still needs to be in print such as artwork, and current ephemera could possibly be stored on the horizontal files (shelves) with the more popular cousins and cataloged.
In addition, bookmark managers allow us to create and change tags and links with aplomb.

So maybe the time has come to pull this shrinking violet out of the corner. Teach it what to wear and give it the attention it deserves--at least once a year.

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