As per ermigal’s (here is her witty and fun blog hope.ly/1zHbDym) request a few weeks ago, I have been on a looking into the usage of card catalogs in my job to find out when the card catalog has been retired and the answer is……
WE STILL USE IT!
I have not personally had to use it for a research inquiry, but anything that predates 1993 can be found on the card catalog. It is still available for viewing by members of the public, as the reserve stock (mostly predates 1993) is listed on the cards. Most of the items before that date are also on our Library Management System, which is what I tend to prefer.
Please see the photograph 🙂
My experience with card catalogues from my local library while growing up varies a little, I was allowed have two different town library cards and loved it! (I lived in one town over from my primary school town).
I was aware of the card catalogue being in the brown shelving unit behind the librarian’s desk in my home town, but she would always recommend titles or encourage me to move around the stacks myself to browse.
In my school town, which had a significantly bigger population thus library, there was a full row of the card catalog cabinets underneath the stairs that really was used a lot, for the older children who were doing research for their studies.
I recall once or twice the librarians (or library assistants) going to find information in the shelves for the patrons.
I am a browser, and was no in the study phrases of my life when the card catalogue was changed for the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), but to be completely honest…. I would ask the librarian at the desk for help and for recommendations.
When my Mother went back to university when I was a preteen, I was allowed into the library to sit next to her a color and read (yes, I was one of those children)!
For her to find the book she needed, she had to queue up to read the Dewey Decimal Classification books, which I have a photo from my module last year!
She had to know which topic she was looking for, what sub class it was and the ISBN.
Full disclosure: my Mum worked 3 jobs and raised me when mobile phones and laptops were a luxury, you could say she was a hard-worker!
She would look in the DDC and figure out the floor and stack she needed to go to.
I am very happy that I went to the same university nearly 10 years later…. when they had the OPAC and guided library tours that could help little first years who were lost.
Each library is different and the technological advances do tend to be *slightly* behind on the times, but its good to know that if the machines take over the world, there are some places that have original library techniques to guide us through!