Memories from the not-too-distant past …
Early this week, on a tour of the Library of Congress (LOC), I took this picture of the pre-electronic era card catalog area. I also found these statistics posted by the LOC librarians on a nearby wall.
Most of our parents know how to use card catalogs backwards and forwards so they will definitely enjoy these pictures from the good old days.
The LOC catalog is still there, though it has not been updated since 1980. Seems like yesterday.
It is fascinating. I grew up with the card catalog, too. However, what I see is information that has been accumulated, but is otherwise largely inaccessible. I’m sure my parents (in their 80’s) prefer Google and electronic catalog searches to the old style.
Inaccessible, yes, but I think of this giant card catalog as a museum piece that demonstrates the dedication and perseverance of generations of librarians who understood, without the benefits of automation, what it took to accumulate and preserve information. The rooms — occasionally open to the public — inspired a certain amount of awe in the thousands of visitors who trooped through. Our electronic information is built on the shoulders of these people, and even thought we all love searching in new ways, so much of what we have today is built on the foundation of their work. They ensured that the detailed information in those cards could be used again and again and be accessible in future forms. Thanks for your comment!