The Vice Dean has sent round a memo announcing that in aid of forthcoming office construction projects (we’re hiring a lot of people and they do have to sit somewhere) all faculty file cabinets in common areas are to be taken away, and we must empty them forthwith — in the next four weeks or so (one of which I will be away). According to reports of a meeting I missed because I was in New York, we may keep the files in our office, or the law school will scan them for us, or if we box them up it will transport the boxes to our home or another location of our choice. Or of course, if we prefer, we may instead dispose of our files, for which purpose the law school has suggestively positioned large gray plastic dumpsters on wheels in highly visible locations, one partly blocking the entrance to my suite of offices. The law school kindly promises to empty it as often as needed.
I am a professional pack rat, so I have *a lot* of files in cabinets in our storeroom and cabinets in our common areas. At least two large and wide vertical file cabinets, and a handful of small traditional file cabinets too.
I suppose I’ll have to spend a few hours doing triage on it all. Perhaps a bit can be thrown away. Perhaps a good fraction can be scanned, although I wonder how they will name the files in a way that makes them easy to use. And no one has said anything about OCR, so I imagine the resulting files will be inefficient. Some of the older files, are primarily copies of articles or cases, and the main reason for keeping them is that they serve as a reference list. Those files would be best if they could be converted into lists that hyperlink to the online versions of the material, but that would take trained labor willing to be bored. I’m not sure we have that around in sufficient quantity; and I already have several other things I want my research assistant to do in the limited time I’m willing to distract her from studying.
But, at present either I’m going to the paperless office or I will have an office so full of paper (in hard-to-access boxes) that no student, and perhaps not even I, will be able to get in there.
Then again, the law school did say they would transport the boxed files to the location of my choice. Perhaps I should suggest the Vice Dean’s office?
I have always taken the position that a paperless law office is about as useful and makes as much sense as a paperless bathroom.