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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In celebration of catalog cards

From today's American Libraries Direct (the online update from ALA):
In celebration of catalog cards: Staff at the University of South Carolina’s Thomas Cooper Library are working to hold a series of events called “It’s All in the Cards” to honor the card catalog, its use in the transformation of knowledge, and the people who created and used it. During Welcome Week there was a game night and a boat race featuring cards from the catalog. The latest event is a competition (PDF file) that challenges students to see what they can make with the cards. The contest has four categories: functional (serves a purpose), fashionable (wearable), foundational (building models), and free form....

I have typed a fair number of catalog cards in my time. (Electric eraser, anyone?) I've filed them. I've pulled even more out of the catalog drawers as part of collection maintenance. I have a 30-drawer unit (Library Bureau, circa 1920) in my studio that holds thread and other notions.

Though librarians may harbor some nostalgia about card catalogs, they don't miss the space that they took up or the staff time they required to stay up-to-date.

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