A card list of subject headings, arranged alphabetically, should be kept. The cards should show the exact form of the subject headings. Notes concerning special material in the files, etc., may be made on the cards when considered useful. Reference cards should be added whenever advisable. Such a list enables one to tell readily what subjects are in the file and helps in assigning subject headings.

It is also a good plan, in most cases, to place subject cards in the public catalog to refer to subject matter in the file. In each case in which this is done, a check or note should be made on the corresponding card in the special subject heading file, as a matter of record, and in order that the card in the public catalog may be removed and not overlooked when the material is withdrawn from the file. The State Library uses a printed form card. Example:

For pamphlet material and clippings on this subject, consult the assistant at the reference desk.

The subject heading under consideration is entered on this card above the printed matter. Example:


For pamphlet material and clippings on this subject, consult the assistant at the reference desk.

Since filing is the science of grouping material, not the separation of it, the following directions, while specific wherever possible, must be tempered by the judgment and experience of the librarian in applying them generally. Ordinarily we subdivide as closely as our subject headings permit, to indicate permanency of interest. Thus a pamphlet on the care of children would be filed under CHILDREN-CARE AND HYGIENE, although in some libraries the accumulation of material on children would be small enough to arrange it all under CHILDREN. But the use of the various subdivisions under CHILDREN does not remove the material from the pertinent heading and it saves the time and labor of re-examination of the material later, when a closer classification would be desired. Matter is thus ordinarily examined once for all. Whenever material is thus subdivided as closely as subject headings permit-or in any case in which a definitive subject heading is assigned-a check mark is placed in the outside upper right corner of the piece to certify the completed operation.

Sometimes subject headings do not group together closely associated subjects, because of their still closer rela


tion to other material. Sometimes subdivision effects a separation of intimately related material. For example, matter treating of the education of children would not be filed under CHILDREN-EDUCATION (which is not an authorized subject heading in our official list), but under EDUCATION OF CHILDREN, thus bringing together material relating to various aspects of education. We use the latter, our file containing a good deal of material on this subject and on education in general; but even with a small amount of literature on these subjects, we should probably make this separation, in view of our co-ordinated program providing for the final disposition of material. Such separation should not obscure the material, as the subject heading lists provide adequate references for an intelligent use of the file.

In some cases, however, it is advisable to file particular subjects under general headings, especially when the matter is not of permanent value or will be superseded later by more complete publications. For example, literature advertising particular summer camps is filed together under CAMPING, rather than separately under the name of each camp. The general heading makes the matter available whether the enquiry be in regard to some particular camp or any camp. As the enquiry is apt to be general, the question would not readily be met if the matter on each camp were filed under its name. Likewise, advance circulars of the various library schools are filed together under LIBRARY SCHOOLS AND TRAINING.

Sometimes the growth and development of a subject may best be taken care of under the original heading, which is then allowed temporarily to attract this related material. For example, there was much discussion of disarmament in 1921, and our file came to include considerable literature under the heading DISARMAMENT. Then came the Conference on the Limitation of Armament, Washington, D. C., 1921-1922, popularly though erroneously styled the "disarmament conference." The later material concerning this conference was by association filed temporarily under DISARMAMENT. After this conference had adjourned and its import and results were realized and provided for in the classification scheme, a realignment of the material was made.5

As each item files under only one subject heading, it is necessary to choose the heading which is most important and most fully descriptive of the matter. Sometimes the content of an item, which ordinarily would be covered in cataloging by the several subject headings which apply, may indicate

5 The example given here is used below as a further illustration, in the discussion of the final disposition of material, in order to show the successive steps of the procedure.


a compromise in assigning the one subject heading for filing, as there is no practicable means of bringing out each subject unless the item is fully cataloged. It is usually impracticable to indicate such other subjects by the use of reference cards in the list of subject headings; such general references would apply equally to all other matter under the heading referred to. In some cases, it may be desirable to assign a minor head

ing rather than that for the subject most concerned, in order to make available certain subject matter which may be more important. Sometimes duplicate items are filed under different headings.

The librarian must not be distressed by this apparent lack of a consistent procedure; he should remember that this material is of minor importance, to be made available in the most useful and economical manner. Valuable items are not under consideration; they should be fully cataloged as received.

The subject headings are written on the face of each piece on the upper edge, beginning at the left. Write them with pencil, as in the future disposition of the material as classified and cataloged matter it is desirable to erase such headings; otherwise confusion might ensue; used material might be returned to the files under the original heading rather than to its pamphlet box.

Fold clippings when necessary, but fold so that the matter under consideration and the subject heading are outside and plainly visible. Other items may also be folded when necessary, but unnecessary folding wastes time, increases the wear on the items and bulks the files unduly. Enter in ink on each clipping the name and date of the source from which it was taken.

Each piece should be stamped with the name of the library, and also preferably with the date of filing, although our procedure does not call for that thinning of the files which makes the date of filing an invaluable record.

The file is arranged alphabetically by subject. Following each guide card, place a miscellaneous folder bearing the same alphabetical divisions. (Some prefer to place this miscellaneous folder at the end of each alphabetical division.) This is to hold the material which is not in special folders. File here miscellaneous matter whose subject headings fall within the alphabetical divisions. When ordinarily three or four pieces accumulate, bearing the same subject heading, give them a separate folder having a corresponding subject heading written upon its projecting edge. These folders are arranged alphabetically by subject in the file.


The foregoing directions provide a program for a clearing house for pamphlets, clippings, etc., through which they may be made readily and economically available and given a chance to prove their worth. Other material not usually considered in this class may be given a trial here. For example, a presumably sample copy of a periodical may be filed here. Sometimes, as in the case of periodicals of an advertising character, successive numbers may be received until it appears that the periodical will come regularly. They may then be withdrawn and be checked on the periodicals check list, until the matter is developed, when decision as to discarding or keeping, binding, cataloging, etc., may be made.

Some pamphlets, etc., contain up-to-date information, cumulated in or superseded by later publications. These may well be placed in the file and discarded when the later publications are received.

Matter which may seem of little or no value may be filed here with the intention of discarding eventually. Unforeseen developments and interest may justify the action and make advisable the retention of the material.

While occasional numbers of serial publications not currently received by the library may be filed here, it is not good policy thus to file pamphlets which are numbers of currently received serial publications, such as periodicals, bulletins, government documents, etc. This matter may ordinarily be approached from another angle than that of subject and its dispersal under subjects offers too great a disadvantage. It is better to catalog such serial publications, even if cards cannot be made for the individual numbers; indexes are usually available for the subject matter of the various issues.

Pictures may be filed here to a certain extent, but if the library has or acquires many pictures, it is best to organize them as a separate collection, which may be better administered under a different system. Likewise large numbers of maps, prints, music, broadsides, manuscripts and other particular classes of material should receive separate treatment.

Publications which are so thick as to make them too uneconomical of filing space, those so large or of such shape that the files will not accommodate them should be cataloged more or less fully, according to their value, checked on the appropriate check list, or discarded.


It is best to have some apt and generally understood name for this file; "vertical file" is merely a term for a certain kind of equipment, and there may be several vertical files for va


rious purposes in the library. We employ the name which is often used in libraries and call our file for such material the "Information File."


This file should be located as near the reference desk as considerations of space, order and convenience will permit, but not accessible to the public.


We do not thin the files of material in the usual manner. When matter is withdrawn, all the matter under that particular subject heading is withdrawn, as also its card in the special subject heading file; also its card in the public catalog, if there be one. That which is no longer considered useful is destroyed. Certain items which may have proved their usefulness, or which in the light of experience may be considered particularly useful, may be selected for individual cataloging. The subject headings are erased from the remainder and they are grouped under one classification number in a pamphlet box and cataloged as a unit without reference to the particular items. Matter can thus be added or discarded without affecting the classification and cataloging.

A standardized form for cataloging is used, following a plan of the Library of Congress. For example:

Pamphlets, clippings, and other miscellaneous matter on the subject of the League of nations.

One copy of this card, upon which the subject headings are traced, is filed in the shelf list; and a copy for each subject heading is filed in the public catalog. Example:


Pamphlets, clippings, and other miscellaneous matter on the subject of the League of nations.

The book numbers used are Z9-99, a device of the Library of Congress, which places miscellaneous minor material on the shelves following the more important individually cataloged volumes under the particular classification number. The call number is marked on each piece and on the back of the pamphlet box. A title descriptive of the subject matter is also placed on the back of the pamphlet box. Future matter of this character on the subject is marked and stamped, and filed in the pamphlet box, and not in the Information File.

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