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#30940 - 02/03/03 12:27 PM When good libraries go bad ....
graceless
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/23/01
Posts: 574
Loc: Illinois

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I hope this goes here. So I go to my local public library, the one I have been going to since I was five, or maybe even younger, and they have completely taken away my beloved card catalogue, they have now switched to a very sloooow computer which isn't helpful at all. They used to have both, which was fine because as much as I love technology I prefer to use the card catalogue, which if you know how to use it it is a lot faster than a really old computer.

I wasn't the only one that was disgruntled about this situation, several people of all ages were mad about this waiting in line behind me to use it - I couldn't do anything it other than wait for the slow computer to bring up anything on my subject of choice - so while we waited and waited for the computer search to come up, many of us voiced our complaints that we would all be done by now with the normal card catalogue. I brought this up with the library page - that's what the call the high schoolers who work there - and asked if they had completely thrown out the old card catalogue and the young lady said "Yeah, it is so much easier now." Well maybe for you because you were obviously never taught how to use the card catalogue system! I couldn't find anything and left without checking out any books, going back to my college library with it's card catalogue (and even better computer search).

Now I ask you my fellow readers, this is probably a normal practice in most libraries, but does it bother you as it did me?
_________________________
"Sometimes I doubt your committment to Sparkle Motion!" - Donnie Darko

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#30941 - 02/03/03 03:13 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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I loathe and mourn the demise of the card catalog. When I saw a computer in place of the old familiar boxy case of drawers, I literally welled up with tears. With the old system, I could zip in and out and be done. Or pull out a whole drawer and browse for a good long time. No more.

One good thing, and only one, that has come from the computerization, is that I can go to the library online and after logging my card number, search for, reserve, and even have transferred from one branch to another, any book I can find.

Other than that, though, the lack of a real card catalog? Sucks. (My apologies to any of our resident librarians out there--I can see how the computerization might make your job easier, and none of those tedious index cards to fiddle with--but still.)

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#30942 - 02/04/03 08:26 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
crumpet2
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/17/02
Posts: 719

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I liked card catalogues, but I adapted well when the libraries became computerized.

On a slightly related topic, I'm not sure whether the young whippersnappers (as opposed to aged aged me! ;\) ) are adapting to computerized systems either. (Perhaps adapting is the wrong word since many never knew the card catalogue.) On a bus, I overheard some college students talking about research papers that were due that week.

"I looked *everywhere* for information," said the keener to the slacker.
"Where?"
"Well the Internet, of course. But I searched Google *and* Yahoo."
"What about the library?"
"Library?" *snort of derision*

Then they discussed the difficulty they were having with the bibliography. The style sheet apparently hadn't been updated since "the time of books." From what I gathered, all they had to reference were web sites.

In my job I have a lot of students coming to me for information for term papers. They want me to find articles for them, not to use necessarily, but to reference. I ask them if they've been to the library, and they haven't. They rely on "resource people" to provide them with material. So I usually give them a few references and tell them to find the journals in their libraries. But I wonder, do they even have the skills to find the journals?

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#30943 - 02/04/03 11:30 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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That's so sad, crumpet.

Don't get me wrong, I love my computer and the Internet, but the most valuable thing that libraries and the card catalog taught me was how to look things up and cross referencing. It's not about knowing the answers, it's more important to know how to find the answers.

I run into the "people resource" type questions all the time. In fact, so much of my time has been taken up at work by individuals who don't even bother to look in an application's help menu or online help (it's right THERE) to figure out how to do something in say, FrameMaker or Acrobat, that I am now required to preface my answers with the question "Did you look in the manual?" Or I go over to their desk, find the spot in the online manual or help menu for them, then walk away.

See, that's what a good card catalog taught me. (Don't even get me started on friends who have computers of their own who can't manage to find stuff online either--even after I've pointed out where I look stuff up.)

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#30944 - 02/04/03 11:50 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
crumpet2
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/17/02
Posts: 719

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I know, Catness. It is sad. I think even using an index in the back of a book is beyond many people these days.
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#30945 - 02/05/03 03:14 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Reni
Ching Shih


Registered: 02/22/01
Posts: 186

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I remember how relieved I felt when I realized in college that the computerized card catalog only included works acquired past a certain date (sometime in the 70s), so that the rows and rows of card catalogs (and my dim remembrance of being taught how to use them in elementary school) were still useful in finding the millions of pre-70s acquisitions the library had. (It was an old school.) Then, whenever I checked out a book found via card catalog and the person checking me out would enter it in the system, I would feel like I was making one more book available to those who only used the online catalog.

I found the same thing to be true, only less dramatically, at my current university - the school is a few centuries newer and they've catalogued back a little farther, but the paper index still has items that the online one doesn't.

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#30946 - 06/18/03 04:39 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
tangentgirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/25/03
Posts: 97
Loc: Long Beach, CA

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Hint - cool piece of furniture: old card catalogue cabinet.
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#30947 - 06/19/03 10:40 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Kristin K
Ching Shih


Registered: 03/31/03
Posts: 109
Loc: Durham, NC

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My local library has gone insane. They have gotten rid of the card catalogue, but they have not designated a computer specifically for electronic searches. Their catalogue software runs on their internet machines, so that you have to sign up for a time to browse, competing with everyone who comes to the library for basic web use. Plus, they only have 3 machines to begin with. It's absolutely ridiculous.
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#30948 - 06/26/03 08:39 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Lothlorien
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 39

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I miss the friendly librarians. Nowadays, they seem to just beep out the books for you. I miss the days of good old librarians suggesting books for reading, telling you to be quiet, asking if you're okay...

No offense meant to librarians at all - it's the system, and I'm writing this based on my experiences at the public library. No longer is it a quiet, calm place to read. It's always buzzing - and it's more about the movies than the books, nowadays. Everyone seems to want videos and music CDs rather than books.

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#30949 - 06/27/03 12:43 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
GoblinShark
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/18/01
Posts: 46

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The local library by my place has gone completely insane. It was completely remodeled over the winter, which seems to have lead to a major cull of the fiction section. There are more DVD's for rent then books(fiction)! What novels they do have are in a pitiful state. *sigh* It's no wonder that the Borders across the street gets more business.
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