A recent patron interaction inspired this blog post reflecting on the importance of “color” for organizing and categorizing information and wondering if this will someday be lost in the online environment. The patron asked for assistance to locate the more recent issues of a serial title only to realize the issues were correctly shelved by call number; however, the binding color had changed.
This situation illustrates the importance of color as a very effective information organizational tool. Color, in addition to being helpful for quickly identifying a volume on the shelf, is equally effective in providing descriptive naming in tandem with symbolic meaning to evoke the content’s subject. There are many examples: Yellow Book [business phone page]; the Little Black Book [for noting personal contact information]; the Blue Book [used for college essay exams]; a white paper [policy/position statement]; grey literature [unpublished research]; just to name a few.
There are at least two important Federal publications that, so far, continue to really on a color to promote content and easy recognition:
The Plum Book
Published every four years soon after a presidential election, this publication lists appointed positions in the legislative and executive branch, i.e. “plum jobs”. The title was published for a while before an edition was actually bound in the “plum” color. The color continues to be part of the icon for the mobile app.
2012 online edition:
Green Book: Background Material and Data on the Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means
As the title suggests, this publication US dollars spent federal programs. In the online environment, the background color for the search page continues to be green.
2012 online edition:
As more information is available in the electronic form it will be interesting to see if these references to paper or binding color will continue as part of our collective information organizational schema. For now, you can recognize some information by its color.