Thursday, November 6, 2008

Card catalogs

Do you remember the card catalog in your school library? Many drawers full of 3 x 5 cards, alphabetized, provided a way to find a book.

Each book had a card alphabetized by the author's name and by the title of the book. Some books had cards alphabetized by the subject of the book too. Libraries and workers spent a great deal of time keeping this up to date.

Most libraries now have online catalogs...all that manual typing and filing have gone electronic and, to say the least, alphabetizing is much easier. We still spend time,of course, making sure the information is up-to-date and accurate.

I ran across this interesting webpage from Harvard University on the history of catalog cards. Libraries used to keep lists of books received in a ledger type book.

Catalog cards started out on the back of playing cards during the French Revolution. Harvard Library moved to slips of paper in the 1800s. Early in the 1900s, catalog cards came about. Late in the twentieth century many libraries moved to an online catalog and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, not only the way to find library books is online, but other information is available online through your library too. A way to fix your car through ChiltonOnline or accurate medical information through Infotrac is available to our library users.