Page 2 of 8 <12345>Last »
Topic Options
#30950 - 06/29/03 09:42 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

Offline
Nicholson Baker wrote a long, involved piece on this very issue. It's in his fabulon book, The Size of Thought. I don't visit the library often (except to wax nostalgic, since my local isn't that comprehensive), so I hadn't noticed. But I used to work in the library, in elementary school and in college, and it just breaks my heart to think what's been lost along with all those cards. All the notes on the back, all the cross-references, all the history in those little cards, all gone.
Top
#30951 - 07/03/03 12:40 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
YesABibliophile
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 411
Loc: Iowa

Offline
I have to say that our library, while it *did* throw out the card catalogue (I cried for two days), it did manage to switch over fairly easily and with plenty of preparation for the residents. They had the computers up and running, getting the bugs out while they had the card catalogue still in the library. Then they gave all kinds of hours, to tutor people on how to use the computer system.

They also only donate so much space to CDs, DVDs, VHS stock. It's still primarily books, magazines and newspapers.

I like the internet and how I can access the info online and reserve books. Yet, I miss the cards and drawers...

Recently, I went to an auction, a woman had been a librarian for 30+ years and brought home her library's catalogue after they had switched over to the PC. I bid hot and heavy against two other women for it, but lost my nerve (and lost out) when the item went for over $300.
_________________________
"What wild desires, what restless torments seize the hapless man, who feels the book-disease." -John Ferriar 1888

Top
#30952 - 10/26/03 01:11 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
F E Mae
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 145
Loc: USA

Offline
I used to work in an acquistions department for a library, and as we became more and more automated---we (the employees) became less and less in numbers. It was done very quietly, but quite obviously. Now, the acquisitions department employs about 5 people, all part-time. When I worked there (27 years ago), we had about 9 people, 3 part time, but 6 full time. Not only are there now fewer people, they also need not pay benefits to the part timers. Sad, yes, very, considering this is a very large library and is much larger than when I worked there.

To construct the necessary information for a card catalog system seemed to require more people. The computer catalog hardly needs much done to it but someone to enter data and wait for the bar code stickers to spat out of the printer. Is this more efficient, and thus less costly? Certainly it is, if fewer people are needed to type out catalog cards, and the cards and pockets that are in the books. However, a glance at our library system budget shows a great deal of cost is in the labor column---and I am not sure our book collection is so hot, either---but gosh, we have plenty of computers for use by patrons in accessing the Internet!

Top
#30953 - 10/26/03 02:48 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
cloonez
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/22/01
Posts: 71
Loc: Kingston, ON

Offline
Is it bad that I've never used a proper card catalogue? Ever?

For as long as I can remember, our public libraries have had electronic indexes. Then a few years ago, they switched from their ancient program that could only be used on library computers to a web-based catalogue. Now I can run all my searches at home, have the books transferred to my local branch and pick them up when the library calls me to let me know that they've all arrived. I guess if I'd grown up with card catalogues, I might be a bit nostalgic for them, but this is just so much more convenient.

Top
#30954 - 10/26/03 04:53 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
AltoidsAddict
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 129
Loc: Denver, Colorado, USA

Offline
drool.

My freshman year college had a card catalog, and I practically wept for joy when seeing it. The genealogy department of the Denver Public Library uses a card catalog, too. It is absolutely indispensable - computers go down, and I remember when libraries were searchable in daylight during a power outage. Now, there's no way to find your book if the computers are down.

Y'all would love reading Cliff Stoll. In Silicon Snake Oil, he has a rather long chapter on the demise of the card catalog.

Top
#30955 - 11/06/03 01:00 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
shrew
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/09/00
Posts: 207

Offline
When I used the card catalogue, I used to find so many cool books that I wasn't searching for. First, there would be the related topics in the catalogue itself, and then there would be the books in the same section of the library when I went to find whatever book I needed.

If all I do is go online, search for a particular book, reserve it, pick it up, and leave, then I miss all of that great browsing and all of those amazing "accidental" books.

Not to say that you can't browse online, but the more detached we become from the library itself, the less we can discover there. And I think that's sad.

Top
#30956 - 01/27/04 01:20 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
anna_karina
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 143

Offline
When the library changed in my town, I hated it. I remembered when I was a little girl, and the computers were a rare treat, just three of them, you had to sign up for a half hour, and I'd type a little story or play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? But now it's all computers, and people use it like a Blockbuster or to use the Internet. I love going through bookshelves and feeling books and finding things by call numbers and scanning everything. But when I went into the children's section (to find old Judy Blume books), there were six computers set up, and all the kids were there, nobody was looking at the books. It broke my heart to see that, as I grew up loving books more than television or movies. I liked them, but I loved books more, and was teased for that, always carrying a book with me in case I got bored. My sister never reads, all she does is watch crap on TV and blast music in her car. The only books she reads are fluff novels, diet books, and "Indian astrology/finding yourself" type of books. I bought her Sarah Vowell's book, seeing as my sister likes Conan O'Brien a lot, and Sarah has a similar sense of humor.
Top
#30957 - 01/29/04 09:06 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
rh dorsty
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 57

Offline
Slow computers, no computers and dour librarians aside, the tremendous advantage of a computerized database over the old Title/Author/Subject card catalog is multiple points of access. A full-search database can pull up materials through the use of patron-selected keywords, unlike the old system, where if you did not know the complete title of the book, or the author's name, you were out of luck. More importantly, if you were looking for a book on a specific topic and did not happen to have memorized the official accepted list of subject headings (yes, it's true, librarians don't come up with those subject heading on their own) you had to hope and pray some librarian had forseen your dilemma and and provided a "See" cross reference card. And those official subject headings had, in some cases, not changed for decades and were absurdly non-intuitive. Keeping up with all those "See's" and "See Also's" was time consuming and annoying.

Card catalogs also required that someone manually file all those cards, as books and other resources were acquired, in their proper alphabetical spots. A mistake in filing and the resource may as well not exist.

Since going computerized, most libraries have also been able to make their own catalogs, as well as the local regional catalog, available for searching on the web. I often go online before leaving home to check whether a book I want is part of my library's holdings (and, if so, if it's currently checked in) and, if it isn't, whether it is available for interlibrary loan from another library. I also check my own records to make sure I haven't forgotten anything I've got checked out and is now due before I set off.

Finally, as a librarian, the database gave me the ability to easily run call-number bibliographies. This was invaluable in terms of acquisition: by checking the pub date of the titles in a certain section (pure and applied science and history/geography are two pertinent ones) I could quickly determine if an area contained a large number of outdated books and thus needed weeding and updating. This was something that could not be done with a card catalog, and required that one stand there and examine all the books on the shelf by hand. While I might ultimately want to do this once a lagging area within the collection was pinpointed, it really saved time in identifying areas that needed attention (and provided a good document to use in funding requests) and allowed me to focus on the acquisitions end of things, i.e. finding the exciting new stuff.

Personally, I can't think of any reason to prefer the old card system to the new databases, as long as the playing field is level and there are sufficient computers in service.

Top
#30958 - 07/07/04 02:21 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
anna_karina
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 143

Offline
True. I think it's just that there is so much dependence on computers that, were they to crash, they may not have backup information printed out or saved in files.

I guess for small libaries I like card catalogs. In my high school library there were both computer ones and the card catalog, and I preferred the latter, because I liked searching through it all. I graduated a few years ago, and it's probably gone by now.

Also, when they have so many DVDs and CDs (they got rid of the cassette albums), it feels like a free Blockbuster, and I hate that.

 Quote:
When I used the card catalogue, I used to find so many cool books that I wasn't searching for. First, there would be the related topics in the catalogue itself, and then there would be the books in the same section of the library when I went to find whatever book I needed.

If all I do is go online, search for a particular book, reserve it, pick it up, and leave, then I miss all of that great browsing and all of those amazing "accidental" books.

Not to say that you can't browse online, but the more detached we become from the library itself, the less we can discover there. And I think that's sad.
Thank you, shrew. This is what I loved as well.

They don't stamp books anymore! They give you a freakin' reciept. I hate it so much. I love the stamp, it feels more genuine, more real. I hate how the world is changing, and people are infantilized in mainstream society so much.

Top
#30959 - 07/07/04 03:01 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Ria Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 497
Loc: Massachusetts, USA

Offline
You hate the videos and DVDs at the library? I have to say that I love them. I've been checking out the Buffy DVDs from my local library and have watched 5 seasons' worth so far. I think it's an excellent service.
Top
Page 2 of 8 <12345>Last »


Moderator:  Ria 
Hop to: