Managing the photocopies!

Alright.  Confess.  Is there anyone who does NOT have a large pile of photocopies of articles, book excerpts, and even complete books, somewhere in their house or study area?  No?  I thought not. Dratted nuisance, aren’t they?

Clearing the decks!
Clearing the decks!

Years ago I used to file them, in hanging folders in filing cabinets.  This week I have been emptying a drawer of such copies.  Most of these were on A3 paper, so very hard to scan; but I simply drew a trimmer down the middle and scanned them in anyway.  And then, most importantly, I threw away the paper.  And the hangers.

At this moment I am going through a pile of off-prints, and guillotining the spines and shoving them through my document scanner.  They scan beautifully.  And … I am throwing the paper away.  The PDFs that I get from the scanner I make searchable, and then, for once, I can use them.

It’s a bit nostalgic, in a way.  I’m finding papers that I ordered in 2001, via my local library.  This was before PDFs existed.  The library charged a substantial sum per paper, and it arrived in weeks, not days.  In those days it was the only available method to obtain a copy of anything.  Now … we have electronic methods.  It’s not so long ago, and yet it’s a different world.

Most of the papers relate to my interest in Tertullian.  I’m scanning in a bunch of copies of the Chronica Tertullianea et Cyprianea as I type – the key bibliography for Latin ante-Nicene patristics.  They will be far easier to search in PDF form!

Also found were a bunch of papers by Canadian academic James Carley, about the English antiquary John Leland.  Leland lived in the times of Henry VIII, when the monasteries were being suppressed, and inspected their libraries.  Many volumes from English monasteries went overseas; most were destroyed.  A post on his work might not go amiss, perhaps.

Meanwhile, I need to scan some more stuff and declutter!  It’s a good task for a rainy day.

Have you purged your filing cabinet lately?


4 thoughts on “Managing the photocopies!

  1. Adobe Acrobat Pro – the editor, not the reader – has an OCR facility. This makes them searchable without increasing notably the file size (which is often the weakness of third party tools). It’s trivial to do.

  2. I sympathise with you, Roger. My filing cabinet is full of beautifully labelled folders containing photocopies of articles on the Nestorian Church assembled painfully from the Bodleian Library when I was doing my PhD thesis in the 1990s. I like the idea of converting them to searchable pdf files. But think of the entropy that awaits all electronic versions. My own hard copies, bulky and in some respects inconvenient, will still exist in 500 years time, with luck. Your pdf files might fall prey to a dreadful virus, or a cyber-attack by the Chinese secret service, or the theft of your computer in a midnight burglary. And then where will you be?

    I know it rather defeats the object, but I am a great believer in keeping hard copy backups. And besides, if I want to check the rank of a bishop present at one of those fifth-century synods of the Church of the East, it is much easier to pull the relevant file out of the drawer than track it down on the computer. I am not by any means a Luddite, but I do urge caution. Change and decay in all around we see …

  3. You are quite right. But I just don’t have the space for more paper. Indeed my house is too cluttered already.

    I have two external USB3 hard drives, one of which lives in the boot of my car. I update them every day, using a script which copies all changed files from various key directories. So when I am on the road, I have my key files – including my PDFs – on that. If my PC is stolen, it doesn’t matter as I have the two drives. If my house burns down and the PC and home external drive are lost, I have the one in the car. If my car is stolen, I have the ones at home. If my home burns down AND my car is stolen, tho, then frankly life will become difficult! But I hope that this is unlikely. The cyber-attack risk is something that I can do nothing about, other than run anti-virus software.

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