Monday, August 15, 2011

Vertical files

A collection of loose clippings, pictures, illustrations, pamphlets, or other materials of an ephemeral nature which, because of their size and format, are filed on their edges in drawers or in a box, usually organized in folders by subject or some other classification system to facilitate reference. Also refers to the cabinet with drawers in which such materials are stored.

ODLIS: Online Dictionary of Library and Information Science

Why vertical files?
  • Current
  • Cheap/free
  • Easily retrieved
    • usually by topic
  • Variety of sources
    • pamphlet
    • photo
    • support group
  • Meet infrequent demand
  • Easy to organize
Characteristics of vertical file material
  • Fit in vertical file cabinet
  • Offer unique information
    • different viewpoints not accessible elsewhere
  • Focus on small part of knowledge
  • Provide current information
  • Have short shelf life
  • Have appealing format
    • attractive
  • Available from non-traditional library sources
  • Free or inexpensive
To build a vertical file you need
  • Commitment
    • files need to be kept up to date once started
  • Budgeted funds
  • Space
    • filing cabinets
  • Time
Selected sources
  • Newspapers
  • Governments (all levels)
  • Foundations, associations, societies
  • Semi-government bodies (e.g. hydro)
    • How to save water
  • Banks, credit unions
  • Company annual reports
  • Manufacturer’s brochures
  • Periodical articles
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Doctor, dentist, health office, pharmacy
  • Grocery store
  • Police, fire station
  • Travel agents
  • Fairs
  • Place mats
  • Establish guidelines for acquisition and retention
    • see attached guidelines adapted from Sitter
  • Include your collection development priorities in guidelines
  • Start with a few kinds of materials and expand slowly
How to prepare a request
  • Use institutional letterhead
    • Identify yourself as part of the library
  • Keep request brief
  • Designate a particular person, position, or collection to receive materials
  • Include a mailing label for faster returns
    • Saves mistakes
    • If asked, send a stamped address envelope
  • Ask to be put on mailing lists for free materials
  • Use readers’ services postcards in magazine
  • If materials marked with restrictions such as “for teachers only” explain you serve teachers
  • Ask for specific titles. Word requests to include new titles on same subject
  • Be clear about topics of interest when making a subject request
    • Be aware of junk mail. Don’t be too general and ask for everything.
  • Avoid vague requests
Keep track of orders
  • Mark entries when ordering from a list
    • Know dates
  • Record important requests
  • Use a tickler file for items requested on a regular basis (e.g. annual reports)
    • Reminder file
  • Use a check-in program/card for regularly issued items (e.g. university catalogues)
  • Keep a source file if you order frequently from a source
  • Set up a computer file to track orders
  • Keep ordering process simple
  • Order groups of material when appropriate
  • Put name/address of source and cost on each item
    • Lets patrons know how to access the source. Put the address on if it’s not there
  • Stamp each item with name/address of library, date received
    • Helps with weeding. Know it was valid material when received
  • Place assigned heading in standard location (hand/computer printed labels)
  • Process for circulation, e.g. barcode, or reference
  • Choose a plan appropriate for your collection
  • Select an authority for subject headings with provision for modification
  • Provide an index for users
Advantages of subject organization
  • Direct easily understood access
  • Allows for easy integration or withdrawal of material
  • Author/title access rarely required
  • Rarely looking for something specific
  • Can use existing standard subject heading schemes and their cross-references
    • Sears
    • Library of Congress
Sample subject heading sources
  • Sears List of Subject Headings
  • Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Indexes, abstracts, e.g. Readers’ Guide, Applied Science & Technology Index, Art Index, etc.
  • Subject thesauri, e.g. Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors, MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)
Preservation and protection
  • Consider preservation and protection when processing new items
  • Estimate shelf life and use of item to determine if protection necessary
  • Preservation and protection methods
  • Flat single items
  • Photocopying (standardizes size of clipping)
    • gives more stability
    • allows you to place date and newspaper on item
  • Plastic covers
  • Envelopes
  • Mounting
  • Laminating
    • does not preserve
  • Encapsulation
    • seals item from the world
  • Decide on best height, width, colour, style for cabinets and be consistent
    • There are a range of cabinets available
    • All cost money and take up room
    • Consider smaller cabinets for elementary school students
  • Use appropriate internal devices
    • e.g. hanging hooks
  • Use bold, large print labels and guides
  • Make files visually attractive
  • Make collection easy to find and easy to use
  • Tell users about your vertical file materials
  • Integrate headings in catalogue
  • Use items yourself in displays, exhibits, answering questions
  • Establish circulation policies
  • Choose a simple circulation system
  • Establish a policy and procedure for weeding
  • Don’t let it grow forever. If necessary, put it on microfiche, for example.
  • Keep files “lean and clean”
  • Set up a plan for systematic weeding and schedule it into your work day, month or year
Purpose of weeding
  • To ensure quality of vertical file as a resource
  • To make collection more appealing
  • To conserve space
  • To save time in searching and maintaining collection
  • To keep close check on collection
  • To provide feedback on strengths and weaknesses of collection
Weeding considerations
  • Material out of date?
    • Applies to non-archival collection
  • In need of repair/replacement
  • Newer information?
  • Subject headings up-to-date?
  • Folder too full?
Electronic vertical file
Bunker Hill Community College. Virtual Vertical File: Selected Sites from the World Wide Web by Subject.

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