Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Remember card catalogs in libraries?  I do, and I loved them.  I was disappointed when, after going to a computer system, they discarded the stacks of narrow little boxes.  Couldn’t they have kept them both?  They made searches so much easier, and there was frequently the joyous experience of finding an even better book (or books!) in the next card or two down the row – Dewey Decimal System, anyone?  I thought I – a science fiction fan from an early age – I was being a troglodyte in regretting their disappearance, but have found I am not alone.  For example, there’s this:

I do want to say that the Internet, with its powerful search engines, is fabulous and I use them avidly.  But I wish there was an app or something that would make connections like the Dewey Decimal System did.

The writing has slowed down again.  I wish I knew how to restore my muse!

I am going to the dentist in a little while.  It seems that in the last six months my teeth, especially the crowns, have deteriorated sharply.  I went in for my bi-annual cleaning and I was shown photographs of the inside of my mouth and was shocked.  The porcelain lining of my bridge has chipped away and a natural tooth has broken and there are other signs of wear.  It’s like I’ve been chewing pebbles.  So now I have to return to get the bad news from Doctor Lunden.   What is it going to cost to restore my mouth?  Are my teeth salvageable at all?


Betty Hechtman said...

I hope your muse returns. I had forgotten about the card catalogs. It is kind of like using a dictionary. You find other neat words on the way to whatever you were looking up. Good luck with the dentist!

Linda O. Johnston said...

I haven't thought about card catalogs for a while, but I do think doing research on a computer about which books are available is really helpful. I especially like the Los Angeles system where the books owned by a lot of branches are all described on the site, and then you can order many of them to be sent to your nearest library for checking out. Good luck with your teeth. I'm sure your muse is just waiting to jump out at you again.

Monica Ferris said...

Betty, You're kind of right, that looking up a word will catch your eye with another word, and then another, and pretty soon it's time for lunch! LOL But in the card file case, the books are related, and often the title is not one you've heard of before, but it's related to your topic.

And Linda, I've done interlibrary loan - or do I mean intralibrary? I once ordered a book on Medieval English Nunneries from a university in Michigan. It took me months to run it down, and it proved very, very valuable to my research. OTOH, not long ago I found it again on the Internet and with a few clicks, it's not my own, safe and secure on my computer.

Annette said...

I hear you loud and clear Monica. Yes, the Internet is a wonderful tool. But, I sure do miss the feel, smell and the joys of cross referencing only found in an old fashion library are catalog.
Good luck with your dental appointment.

Julie said...

I'm late to this post, but i have to say that all of you who are nostalgic for card catalogs have clearly never been librarians or library staff who had to type multiple copies of multiple-card sets of cards, getting them error-free, and typing right up to the very edge of stiff catalog cards, using a typewriter fitted with a card platen, which had a slot built into it to hold the bottom edge of the card. I've done this in my time. A lot. I feel no nostalgia for catalog cards.
If it helps, browsing the shelves near a book that's of interest to you can help you expand on your electronic search, much as browsing cards in a card tray can, (From a librarian who still has PTSD from card typing.)

Julie said...

Just an addendum: Books and other works in libraries are still classified, by Dewey Decimal, or Library of Congress, or another classification system, and browsing the shelves near one book will lead to others on the same or similar subjects, just as browsing those cards did. If you look in any non-fiction work published in the US, you will find not only the publication data, but also cataloging data, including the Dewey or LC classification number. Dewey is alive and well.