musings about my former relationships with card catalogues

If you are a pre-Millennial (quick check: if you don't know what a Millennial is, you are "pre") and occasionally visited a library in your younger years - in between drinking beers at trackside while waiting for trains - you may remember those beefy hardwood cabinets full of grubby index cards - the infamous card catalogues - containing all sorts of enigmatic scrawlings that seemingly were designed to perplex and confound.

That is exactly what they were designed to do. [the following is continued from the Card Calalogue page]

Otherwise, those nice, middle-age ladies in the dowdy clothing who sat at reference desks would have been unemployed. If you were a student of some sort, however, you were expected to directly confront the catalogue. When I was a college freshman in history, I wisely took a full-semester course entitled "Use of Books and Libraries", which was merely a peek at the stupefying complexity of locating, say for instance, Lady Chatterly's Lover Goes Firing. I followed-up this with an upper division course on History Research Methods, which essentially was the same thing, but in a more impenetrable sense. Beyond that, I spent several years as a student assistant in the library history department.

The cumulative result was that, somewhere in all of this, I began to wish that Al Gore would hurry up and invent the Internet, because I never quite got it, and I was not about to pursue a degree in library science to get it. Leave those catalogue card hieroglyphics to the flagellants of academia, and of course, those nice reference librarian ladies, said I.

In the mid- 70's, not too long after I graduated, much of which I labored to understand figuratively flew out the reading room window with the advent of a computer-based cataloguing at my former school's library. They kept the rows of old card catalogues for awhile, but when these disappeared to make way for more computer terminals, I was back to square one, as I had never sat in front of a CRT that displayed anything other than B&W TV shows.

Luckily, at about this time I went to work for the railroad, where higher thinking was not encouraged.

Considering my love-hate experience with the old way of doing things, I really don't know why I chose to memorialize the card-based system here. Historical irony, I supposeā€¦ I also question why I am employing the UK version of what we in the colonial hinterlands call a catalog. Maybe some things are best left unanswered.

// eog, 7-11-2019