Documenting Catalogs

Over the next couple of weeks, the information age class will be considering events in the digital age. Like our last project, Dr. McClurken has asked us to participate in a less than conventional project. We will produce a documentary, perhaps even of epic proportions. We have a considerable amount of work ahead of us. I have never done this sort of project before, but with enough foresight and good effort, I believe we can all have a fun and engaging project.

My group decided to pursue the shifts from card catalogs to digital databases. It’s a small detail, but the change surely has major consequences for librarians and borrowers who trained in and grew up with the card catalog. In trying to find individuals who could take part in the documentary, we need to consider librarians who have extensive exposure to the older system. My initial conversation with a younger librarian on campus demonstrated that the shift from card to electronic is not that recent.

Why this project? Well, unlike the last project, we do in fact have an idea that relates more directly to the information age than weight-gaining products. The choice of library cataloging practices is an excellent one. We will seek to understand how the change occurred, its impact, and implications. Given that I have never been stuck with a card catalog system, I have no idea how one would search for a book without effortlessly searching with keywords and phrases. The way you search for information shapes how you think of information, understand what information is available.

Obvious interviewees for completing this project are older librarians. Perhaps additional interviewees should include users who have worked with both systems. I wonder if such an approach would make our documentary too broad, given that we only have a 5-10 minute limit. With that issue in mind, we may have to consider how to narrow our questions down to a specific issue.

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