Check out this article by Anne E. Bromley from UVA Today about the University of Virginia’s campaign to save the library’s old card catalog. The article highlights how preserving the cards helps save historical facts about each book, sparks the discovery of other artifacts, and engenders collaboration among several university departments. Whatsmore, the article explains that the preservation drive recognizes the monumental efforts of past librarians: “the creation and maintenance of the card catalog represent tens of thousands of hours of work done by seldom-recognized librarians of the past, most of whom were women.” A must-read for library history enthusiasts!
Among the saddest days of my career as a practicing librarian arrived the day my big city library administration sent out the tech staff to the branch I was serving in to plug in the PACs and throw out the card catalog – my protestations fell on deaf ears and, sadly, the respect for the card catalog and what it represented in terms of public service value was not even shared by professional colleagues. Worse, the branch was located in an immigrant community unfamiliar with keyboards, electronic mice, dropdown menus, passwords, PAC search techniques. They needed the more tangible analog – at least during the transition to digital experience. Too bad. So sad. Awful.