The Search Evolution

In his most recent post, bakhtinjali discussed what our group is doing for the next InfoAge assignment – making a documentary about the transition in libraries from card catalogues to digital databases. I feel that this topic is extremely relevant to this class for a number of reasons. While it may seem like a minor detail in the transition to the modern age, I think many people don’t realize the implications of a digital database of material has on the searchablilty of information. Card catalogues were entirely dependent on the organization skills of the librarians (or part-timers) who worked at the library. Even if the librarians were meticulous about card placement, it would be extremely difficult to search. There was so much chance for human error, both on the part of the librarians and the library users. Moreover, it would be all but impossible for librarians to keep track of popular subject searches, making it difficult to ascertain what materials should be removed from circulation. While there are still flaws with the current system, the switch has improved the usability of libraries by leaps and bounds. But I cannot imagine that the transition was an easy one. There are still flaws with the current system – imagine what it was like when libraries were using DOS. I think this evolution will be fascinating to track, and I look forward to starting on this project!

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