Why Notebooks?

By Patricia Tector, past Director of Judges’ Certification

This article first appeared in NANthology, the NAN newsletter, in summer 2008.

Some of our certification programs have the requirement that we develop a notebook of materials that are relevant to the area of certification that we are pursuing. Two things might happen: One, we may wonder why and if we would ever find enough to fill a notebook; and, two, we may soon discover that one notebook is not enough!

Why are we strongly encouraged to start a notebook? Because there are articles that we will come across that pertain to some aspect of our field. These articles may be in books or magazines or online or wherever. The articles contain information that we might want to return to at some point but have no other need to purchase the book or keep the entire magazine. Plus, the only way to get an article off the internet is to make a copy.

Before we go any further, the caution must be presented that one can only make a copy of an article for her own personal use. If ever the intention arises to use this article in the process of speaking to a group or writing an article, the author of the article you copied for your own personal use must be contacted in order to obtain their permission to use the article in a public manner.

Once you have started a notebook, you may find that you need to develop a system whereby you can keep articles of a similar nature, e.g. tabs in the notebook for each area such as: color, design, techniques, finishing, etc. As time goes on and the number of articles increases – and they do like rabbits – the tabbed sections in one notebook might each become a separate notebook for each area of interest.

The notebooks that you develop could be actual notebooks or virtual ones. That means that you might want to set up files on your computer that would operate like physical notebooks. Articles from books or magazines could be scanned into the computer. The advantage to this system is that you could readily find an article by using the search function on your computer and then copying the article for your personal use.

The articles in these notebooks, actual or virtual, become a reference tool just as the books in your library and sometimes contain more up-to-date information than the books on your shelves.

After considering all of the reasons listed above, another question may come to mind: even if I  am not in a certification program, why can’t I start my own notebooks? Good question. Answer: you can!