The Picture File

The Picture File - cover

The picture file: A manual & curriculum-related subject heading list

Submitter: [This is] from a middle school library non-fiction shelf available for student use!  The internet eliminated the need for picture files more than 15 years ago, but I found this book on the shelf last year. Once school libraries were staffed based on the amount of items in the collection.  That’s the only explanation I can think of for why this book was still on the shelf. What’s more astounding is that someone paid to put this in an online catalog instead of weeding it when the card catalog and picture files were eliminated.

Holly: Who knows how things like this get missed or passed over when weeding!

I have to confess: I had no idea what a picture file is.  I can see how it  might have been a cool thing in the 1970s and 1980s, though!  It looks like it’s a file of pictures (um…duh, right?) that are  used for bulletin boards, displays, teaching lessons, and that sort of thing.


The Picture File - back cover

The Picture File - space, equipment, supplies

The Picture File - dry mounting

The Picture File - the card catalog


  1. This would have been handy for all those “I need a picture of a chimney sweep.”

    1. I’m trying to imagine a context where chimney sweep photos would be so frequently needed that they are the example that springs to your mind. Something about child labor? Dickens?

      …Or do you mean the bird?

      I’m sure the real explanation is not nearly as interesting as the scenarios I’m imagining, but I hope you’ll tell me.

      1. This happened years ago so I no longer remember too much about this, but some child wanted it for a report he/she was doing. I didn’t find anything, but I remembered it because it was so unusual, kind of like the “how to bathe a boa” type reference question.

  2. We had one at art school (late 1990s). Hugely helpful. I remember checking out laminated clippings of photos of stalactites and stalagmites to use as reference/source visuals for a sculpture project. Everyone used it.

  3. I’m wondering why schools would no longer need picture files. Wouldn’t they still be handy for posting pictures around the classroom and for bulletin boards?

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