Is the content in your collection getting better with age, or just older?
Reference content is special because it has the specific purpose of being valuable in the future. At some future time, its value may be historical, in describing how the past was different; or it might be valuable because it is illuminating about how things stay the same.
But it doesn’t always get the chance to show its value.
We always have a reason for why we decided to keep something and put it away. That seems easy. Then, we rely a lot on remembering the reason. But even though memory is powerful, it is still often hard to come back later and find the content to get it back out. In effect, we become unfamiliar with our own collection over time…
This problem can easily occur if our future reason for using the content doesn’t match the one that made us keep it in the first place. That mismatch can occur for lots of reasons, including simply forgetting. What seems important now can overpower the memory that we had relied on, pushing it out of our mind.
We can take steps to prevent that from happening. For organizing the arrangement of content, nothing beats using a catalog. A catalog arranges content in a way that explains why something should be used.
That is, it specifically relies on the probable future use as the key to putting something away. When we come back to it later, that reason reminds us of how the content is valuable.
With a catalog showing us a variety of reasons why the collected content is valuable, we are more likely to find the content we want now regardless of why and when we kept it in the first place.