CHAPTER XV
MISCELLANEOUS SOURCES

THIS review of outside sources of information and their uses is nearing its conclusion. One of the most important sources of all is the social agencies themselves, but treatment of this source has been reserved for the next chapter for reasons there explained. The other sources to which no attention has yet been given fall into three groups: (1) public departments not directly engaged in social work, (2) business sources other than employers and neighborhood tradesmen, (3) fraternal orders. None of these requires very extended notice.

It was hoped that even a limited inquiry into the outside sources now being used by social agencies would discover some useful ones which were still quite generally neglected. As a matter of fact, a number of these have been unearthed. Every new source evaluated and held in reserve for the right occasion enriches social case work and gives it greater flexibility. There is crudity everywhere in the processes of an art so new, but the only discouraging case work practice is that which settles back into a certain routine, a certain round of things invariably done, without any fresh thought or spirit of adventure. By comparison with the efforts of those who are less experienced, such routine work may seem, on first examination, fairly good, but there is a blight upon it; closer scrutiny shows that no experiments are being tried, no established method is being revised or discarded. Work not half so good may contain far more promise, therefore, if it bears marks of dissatisfaction with the tool and its manipulation.

One of these marks is the habit of seeking unusual sources of knowledge and co-operation. Without imagination we do not find even the obvious source that has been overlooked. Like Mr. Deland's advertiser of carpets,1 who realized that families were

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1
Deland Lorin F.: imagination in Business, p. 43. New York, Harper and Brothers, 1909.

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