Now that classes have started, the library is constantly on my mind. I might be doing a lot of library blogging over the next few years. Just warning you now.
Last night I was listening to a few of this weeks lectures and reviewing part of last weeks. The prof. mentioned how in the olden days of the library, card catalogs were in use.
Remember those things? Actual card catalogs? It seems so long ago that computers took over in libraries, but actually, it wasn't that long ago less than 20 years. When I was in undergrad school, card catalogs were still in use at the university library. There were some computers, but only a few at that time.
I like how efficient computers are. They make searching for books so easy. But I think back to the elegance in the sight of those card catalogs and it makes me kind of sad. Those beautiful large wooden bureaus with their many long drawers. There was a flickering of fingers as one moved through the cards in search of the right one, a motion that has been lost as use of cards to store information has disappeared. There was a smell about those dusty yellowed cards that was completely unique to a library. It made the library more peaceful, I believe. There were rows of books, card catalog bureaus, rows of desks and tables for study, and books were actually checked out with stamps. An age of elegance was lost when the computer took over.
Now the libraries are filled with bright faced computers and the hundreds of wires that computers require. More people sit at the computers rather than browsing the physical books. They are nosier places and the unique smell is gone from the public library. Last week, I had to go to a university library in search of a unusual title for class, and I was reminded of the smell of old, dusty books. It was like I remember when I was a kid.
I have to say, I'm grateful for technology and that as a librarian, I won't have to check out books by using cards and stamps, but the old-fashioned romantic in me misses the sophistication and graceful age of the card catalog.