File Wrangling

I’ve spent a fair bit of time over the past two months wrangling files. Actually, I’ve hired someone to wrangle a lot of paper files – to shred some materials that needed to be securely eliminated as well as sort out some old teaching files that I can now decide to keep or recycle. At the same time, in between writing, working on recovering my health and supervising a grad student, I’ve been wrangling professional paperwork. Both virtual and physical, I assembled a dossier documenting the past five years of my academic work.

Let me tell you, that is not easy. Even if I’ve been pretty good about managing and storing my files over the years, some files become corrupted, some documents don’t play well with other and some mandates (merge ALL the PDFs for everything you’ve taught over the past five years!) just don’t work well. Even when you have the tools, there are some mysteries that cannot be plumbed as to why the rubrics for my early modern British course did not want to be included in the mega-PDF but every other course’s rubrics worked just fine.

After a five-hour final marathon session, I called it quits on this particular task with a definite sigh of relief. I’m glad to have it off my hands. The only scary part is that our program is up for its periodic review this coming year and we’re going to have to do much of this work all over again but for all of the faculty for the entire program over the past seven years and a lot more besides. Oh, joy. Maybe we can hire a full-time file wrangler? I only wish!

What file-wrangling tips and tricks keep you on top of documentation, virtual or physical?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “File Wrangling

  1. I may not have merged quite that many PDFs (though I have merged 6 years’ worth of syllabi and sample handouts and other documentation for a 4/4/often-2-in-the-summer teaching load, so maybe I have), but I’ve found that the full Adobe program is worth paying for (if you’re merging PDFs, you may already have it), and that using bookmarks (and including some navigation suggestions for readers on the first page of the packet) definitely helps. Among other things, it allows you to help readers skip around and make connections (e.g. narrative about a particular class in its place, bookmarks to class materials, which may be elsewhere in the packet, nested immediately below).

    I’m told by a colleague who has tried using it that Adobe’s “portoflio” function (or maybe it’s called “binder”) works less well (the files it produces are much larger than a single PDF with bookmarks).

    Other than that, I have no suggestions, just sympathy. There are signs that the building which houses our department offices is actually going to be renovated in a year or two. It’s past time, but I think I’d better start sorting now.

    • J Liedl

      I’m upgrading my computer as well this summer and likely will opt to get the full program when I do, thanks to your tip here. Bookmarking would be an awesome function to have in longer PDFs and I’m hankering to try this out with personal editions I’ve made of some primary texts, too.

  2. notofgeneralinterest2

    This sent me on an Amazon scanner-buying fantasy. Is the full Adobe the $600 one? I used to have a smaller version for about $100.

    • J Liedl

      I’m not sure what the current cost is – going into the TechHub tomorrow to buy my new laptop and see about the software. I was thinking the price point was more around $100-$200. $600 would be too much! It’s possible that I can get a department-owned copy since I’m the one, after our admin, who wrangles lots of paperwork and documentation.