Catalog cards reach an end of an era

Do you remember using one of these to find information?

catalog card

For at least a century, card catalogs were a fixture in libraries of all types. They allowed users to look for books in the physical confines of the library. Librarians meticulously prepared and typed catalog cards to exacting standards.

In 1971, the library cooperative known as OCLC automated the production of catalog cards. After one library in the cooperative produced the metadata to describe a book or other resource, other libraries could indicate that they also owned that item and could order a card for their own catalog. OCLC printed and distributed nearly 2 billion catalog cards to libraries around the world until just this month, when they printed the last card on October 1. Since the mid-1980’s, libraries have gradually replaced their physical catalogs with online catalogs and sophisticated resource discovery systems that allow researchers to search for information available not only in the physical library but also from vast stores of online resources.

The UWRF library decommissioned its card catalog in the late 1980’s, when it implemented its first online library catalog. Never seen a catalog card and want one for your own? Stop by the library and we’ll give you one (or as many as you want!)  We still have cards from our card catalog that we continue to use for scratch paper.   While we’ll never pine for the old days of the card catalog, we will always remember with fondness this part of our library history.

card catalog

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