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Rutgers University Libraries

Libraries before the age of Google: Exhibit

Card catalog

Card catalog

The card catalog was the only way to discover what the library had and where we had it.  We had cards to represent authors, titles, subject and series.  Discarded but beautiful wooden catalogs have now become a charming furniture accessory. You can see one in the background of Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment in the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”.

ALA Rules of Filing Catalog Cards

ALA Rules of Filing Catalog Cards

American Libraries Association put together a set of rules for librarians to file the catalog cards.

Card sorters

Card sorters

Card catalogs, once a mainstay of libraries, have become nearly extinct, even though we still depend on one for finding some government documents.  Maintaining a card catalog could be a time-consuming process.  These card sorters were used to arrange cards in alphabetical order before the cards were filed into the card catalog.

Gaylord find calculator

Gaylord find calculator

This fine calculator sold by Gaylord was used to calculate library fines.  The library staff would use such device to determine the number of days that the borrower had to be responsible for the charges.  Since the fine did not include the days when the library was closed, it got complicated to do the computation. The Gaylord fine calculator helped the staff expedite the computation of the proper charge made for a return book.

There is a patent filed for such computing device in 1951.  The patent number is 2,553,915.

Today, the ebooks have made such computing device obsolete, because ebooks do not accrue fines, as they cannot be overdue.

Check out slips

Check out slips

Before computers, library users signed books out manually.  At some branches, a dual card system was used.  One card was filed by author so that the librarians knew who had charged out the book.  The other card was filed by due date so that overdue notices could be sent out.

Punch cards

Punch cards

Our first computerized circulation system used batch processed punch cards like this one to keep track of which user had a book charged out.

Catalog of the Naval Observatory Library

Catalog of the Naval Observatory Library

Books like this one and the National Union Catalog are printed catalogs of books catalogued by the Library of Congress and other American research libraries.  It contains photocopies of printed catalog cards so that librarians can tell the location of each title listed in the book.

Catalog of the Naval Observatory Library (close up)

Catalog of the Naval Observatory Library (close up)

Books like this one and the National Union Catalog are printed catalogs of books catalogued by the Library of Congress and other American research libraries.  It contains photocopies of printed catalog cards so that librarians can tell the location of each title listed in the book.

Publications of the US Geological Survey

Publications of the US Geological Survey

Printed bibliographies such as these were an important means of discovery for publications that would otherwise be difficult to identify.  Online Resources have made most such documents obsolete.

Staff manual

Staff manual

This manual guided our paid student library workers and new staff on the layout of the library system, e.g. locations of branches, policies and procedures for library transactions and recording of their timesheets.

Green cardboard box

Green cardboard box

This box held binding slips – a file of slips recording which loose current periodicals had been sent out to be bound into leather-bound volumes.  When the volumes were returned from the bindery of shelving with the “bound periodicals, the slips were pulled.  Librarians would consult this file if a user was having difficulty finding current periodicals.  They were often out at the “binder” for 4 to 6 weeks making them inaccessible to the user.  New journals were sent out as soon as a “volume” was complete. This policy resulted in many complaints when users could not locate current year’s issues!  However, if the loose issues were not sent to bound, they could easily be lost or misplaced.

Stamps and stamp pads

Stamps and stamp pads

Librarians had stamps for almost every contingency.  The “missing pages” stamp was used for books or journals that have pages missing.  The stamp is used less often as many of our resources are now available online.

Stamps and stamp pads

Stamps and stamp pads

Librarians had stamps for almost every contingency.  The “missing pages” stamp was used for books or journals that have pages missing.  The stamp is used less often as many of our resources are now available online.

Disks

Disks

Floppy disks were originally 8 inches and were indeed “floppy”.  They could store 100K bytes (100,000) characters) of data.  Later the 5 ¼” floppy disks could store up to 1.2M bytes. They were soon replaced by 3 ½” rigid disks, then with portable hard drives, USB flash drives and … the cloud.

Laptop

Laptop

This laptop was first used by the librarians at the Library of Science and Medicine in the 1980s.

Book on search strategy

Book on search strategy

Searching before the days of Google was not simply a matter of typing in the relevant words for the information you wanted, then manipulating other terms to try to get the results you want.  In the early days of online searching, librarians were sent to classes for training in each of the search systems available, e.g. Dialog, NLM’s ELHILL, BRS, STN etc.  Each had their own conventions for inputting query terms, combing terms and inputting commands for online printing, offline printing (citations were mailed to the library), scrolling etc.  All the while online when the “clock” was ticking – and charges building up.  Librarians really had to know their systems, their subjects and type accurately! Pressure!

Booklet “Online Research with a Microcomputer”

Booklet “Online Research with a Microcomputer”

In the 1980s, the introduction of end-user searching where the scholar searched for information directly, with no mediation by a librarian, was a major change in the access to information for everyone.  Now Google becomes a verb. Everyone can just “google”.

Booklet “Online Research with a Microcomputer” (inside)

Booklet “Online Research with a Microcomputer” (inside)

In the 1980s, the introduction of end-user searching where the scholar searched for information directly, with no mediation by a librarian, was a major change in the access to information for everyone.  Now Google becomes a verb. Everyone can just “google”.

Texas Instruments data terminal

Texas Instruments data terminal

In the 1970s, librarians felt a sense of pride when they did online mediated searching for faculty and students.  Searching in those days was fee-based.  In order to keep billing costs low, librarians were stressed by their attempts to minimize online connect time.  Today, our networked and end-user searchable databases with user-friendly search interfaces allow creative search strategies and not search minutes to be the essence of success.

This machine, Texas Instruments “Silent 700 Series” Model 725, was TI’s first portable data terminal.  The librarians at the Library of Science and Medicine preferred this terminal for online searching and affectionately nicknamed it “Baby”.  Unlike our computers, this data terminal did not have a monitor.

Thermal paper

Thermal paper

The Texas Instruments dumb terminal and other terminals used thermal paper to record the queries and retrieved information.  This scroll is from a search with the now defunct “Laboratory Animal Database”, which was an experimental database produced by the National Library of Medicine.

Thermal paper (close up)

Thermal paper (close up)

The Texas Instruments dumb terminal and other terminals used thermal paper to record the queries and retrieved information.  This scroll is from a search with the now defunct “Laboratory Animal Database”, which was an experimental database produced by the National Library of Medicine.

Typewriter

Typewriter

Typewriters were not only an essential item in the librarians’ offices. At the Library of Science of Medicine, there was a room filled with typewriters for students and faculty to type their works. To operate a manual typewriter, you needed strong fingers and great dexterity. Nevertheless, they worked during power failures! And envelopes were not a big deal!  Wite-outs were used to correct mistakes. Liquid correction fluid was also used, but it could make a mess on the typewriter!

Electric Typewriter

Electric Typewriter

Electricity made it unnecessary to have the strength in your wrists and fingers that made it so challenging to use a manual typewriter.  Typists did not have to send the “carriage” at the end of each line.  This feature plus the ease of keyboarding made it possible to type much more quickly.  Some electric typewriters had removable printwheels so that you could change the typeface from “pica” to “elite”, or use a special printwheel for scientific or mathematical symbols.

Microfiche viewer

Microfiche viewer

Librarians used this portable Kodak viewer to read the contents of microfiche.

Microfiche

Microfiche

This set of “Cumulations of the Microfiche” (COM) was a supplement to the Union Catalog, which listed the holdings of a book title. When a microfiche was being used by a library staff, a card would be placed in the slot temporarily to indicate that the microfiche was “in use”. 

Microfilm reader/printer brochure

Microfilm reader/printer brochure

Microfilm and microfiche permitted storage of large sets of publications in a compact format.  However, microfilm and microfiche required equipment for reading and printing.  The equipment was often difficult to read and clumsy to use.

3M Duplifiche Printer

3M Duplifiche Printer

It is hard to imagine that the word “duplifiche” actually existed.  Duplifiche was a word formed from combining “duplicator” and “microfiche”.  The machine exposed the original microfiche and made a copy.  It was designed to produce duplicates from old and damaged microfiches.

Coin counter sorter machine

Coin counter sorter machine

Photocopying journals and book chapters used to generate substantial revenue for the libraries.  The library staff would collect the coins and put them into the coin counter sorter machine.  As the coins made their way through the chute making “jingling” sound, they were being counted and sorted.  Cash was then kept in the vault room with steel door. The vault still exists on the third floor of the Library of Science and Medicine. 

Students and a card catalog, undated.

Students and a card catalog, undated.

Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives' Rutgers Photo Collection. 

Student on a computer in Tillet Hall, 1975.

Student on a computer in Tillet Hall, 1975.

Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives' Rutgers Photo Collection.

View from LSM window looking towards the farm, November 1970.

View from LSM window looking towards the farm, November 1970.

Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives' Rutgers Photo Collection.

Postcard from LSM, undated.

Postcard from LSM, undated.

Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives' Rutgers Photo Collection.

A view of the inside of LSM, spring 1982.

A view of the inside of LSM, spring 1982.

Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives' Rutgers Photo Collection.

Staff with an early computer, circa 1980s.

Staff with an early computer, circa 1980s.

Image courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives' Rutgers Photo Collection.

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