First, when I am in “benchwork” mode, I am all about tactile information. As I tap into a part of my brain that is gathering as much information from my fingertips as from my eyes, I find the tactility of holding a pencil and writing on paper keeps me in that mental mode better than repeatedly switching to typing and looking at a computer screen. My notes also tend to consist of fragmented phrases punctuated with lots of quick sketches, rather than well-constructed, complete sentences. Again, this probably has to do with the mental mode I’m in during treatment. I don’t want to be held up by lexical and syntactic choices when I’m in the midst of benchwork. Notes and sketches provide a serviceable first draft, and then I can massage the language for clarity when I am typing my report into our treatment documentation database (KE Emu) later.
Second, my computer resides in my office, which is across the hall from the Library Lab proper, where I do my benchwork. My lab does have a laptop I could use to log in to our treatment documentation software, but the laptop is large, heavy, and clunky, taking up valuable real estate on my workbench. I’m also not the tidiest of conservators when my work is in process, and I don’t want to have to worry about splattering the laptop with adhesives or consolidants, or getting dry-cleaning eraser crumbs or other detritus lodged in the keyboard.
I used to take notes on a printout of the treatment proposal, which I liked because it meant all the identifying information for an object in treatment was printed right there on the same page. However, more times than not, I would run out of blank space and move onto a legal pad for additional notes. I found I liked writing on the legal pad better, because it was easier to keep track of than shuffling back and forth among a sheaf of printed proposals when I was working on multiple treatments at once. However, the legal pad ended up getting pretty beat up over time, with crumpled corners, creases, and notes for different treatments all jumbled together, so I tended to discard these handwritten pages after typing up the reports.
While this is the method that works for me, there are many paths to note-taking nirvana -- what's yours?