Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Book Arts Tuesday-Smithsonian Says Card Catalog is Dead

I get email updates from the Smithsonian Magazine. I don't always follow up on them but how could I resist the title, "The Card Catalog is Officially Dead." Here's how it starts:

It’s been a long time since most libraries were filled with card catalogs — drawers upon drawers of paper cards with information about books. But now, the final toll of the old-fashioned reference system’s death knell has rung for good: The library cooperative that printed and provided catalog cards has officially called it quits on the old-fashioned technology.

The news comes via the The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). The cooperative, which created the world’s first shared, online catalog system back in 1971, allowed libraries to order custom-printed cards that could then be put in their own analog cataloging systems. Now, says OCLC, it’s time to lay a “largely symbolic” system that’s well past its prime to rest.

This made me think of art projects made with card catalog pages. Here's a sampling:

Installation by Ann Hamilton at the San Francisco Public Library

Interactive Exhibit this past spring at Emory Library

Repurposed Library Card Catalog Pages by Vicki Moore at Library as Incubator

American Craft Council Library Card Project


:Diane said...

All those lovely wooden drawers and cabinets.
Wish I'd been there when they tossed them out.

Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord said...

Me too Diane!

The Idaho Beauty said...

:-( Just the other day I was at my library, using the computer to try to track down an author whose name was eluding me. I realized that there was no filter for separating out the traditional Dewey Decimal system classifications so that I could pull up all the names of sci-fi authors. (Well, maybe there is, but I couldn't figure out how to do it.) Type in Sci-Fi under a subject search and I got books on Sci-Fi, not Sci-Fi books. Even worse if I used it as a keyword. I was literally ranting inside my head that I could find what I wanted quicker if only there was a card catalog! Bear in mind, I am the same person who as a high school senior could work math problems by hand quicker than the students next to me using slide rules...

This was interesting though from the standpoint of where those cards came from. I had no idea there was a central place that generated them. I remember typing up cards to put in the card catalog files at the school where I was a library aide for awhile. I guess I just assumed that's how everyone generated their collections.

Leave it to artists to find ways to reuse these cards that have become obsolete!

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