↓ Transcript
Patron: Where is the card catalog?
Jody: I’m afraid we don’t have one anymore. We use computers now.

Jody: See? I type what I’m looking for into this box, and the computer tells me where it should be.

Patron: Can you show me where the card catalog is, please?


10 thoughts on “191”

  1. 5007-574IN3D says:

    I feel sorry for these guys, who are so afraid of technology.

    At the same time, it’s ridiculous how many of them are “Fire is bad. Technology is scary. Thomas Edison was a witch!”

  2. Robert in San Diego says:

    Card catalogs work, and they work well for a single library. But electronic catalogs give better access to folks checking from home, and work better for libraries with multiple locations. My municipal library system has 35 locations, some so small a comprehensive card catalog might not fit in the branch! Online functions like placing and managing hold requests are also a boon. I miss being able to directly dial into the library’s catalog system, though. That old command line interface was wicked fast.

    Also, they don’t make index cards the way they used to.

  3. Zan Lynx says:

    The best feature computers have over cards is multiple indexes and search fields.

    Unless your library was extremely organized it only had cards on a single index. A computer catalog can search by title, author, series, publisher, topic, publication date, etc.

  4. Elliot says:

    Where in the world has this fellow been? I left the US to study abroad back in 1984, and there was already a switch taking place “even” over “there” with pre-1920 items in huge tomes stretching half a football field’s length that had cards pasted in them, many handwritten, going back centuries. Post 1920 were on microfiche. The dual system was confusing and cumbersome. When I got back to the States in 1988, I was shocked to find that many a library had ditched their card catalogs except for shelf lists, esp. in academic institutions.

    This was the same period where I left the country with vinyl LPs in abundance in record stores like Tower and Sam Goody that I loved and returned to see the old record albums virtually extinct and replaced by CDs, now an “old” technology that has almost been phased out. I didn’t at all care for these changes at first, but got used to them and saw their advantages and, like most people, I suppose, use them comfortably. The only big, disadvantage, of course, is when online catalogs and other digital databases crash and when there’s an outage.

    I know the humor lies in exaggeration, farce, and satire in comic strips, but someone in 2017 asking for a card catalog in (what I suppose) is a North American public library? Now, that’s absurd, but I still love it! This guy must be Rip Van Wrinkle (not a typo)!

    1. Jason says:

      I work for a public library system in a Big City in the US. And I get asked for the card catalog maybe twice a month. Not too big an exaggeration, sadly.

      1. Elliot says:

        Interesting. Thanks for that piece of info. I hadn’t heard anything like that in a very long time. I may be inoculated because I work in a huge, academic research library system and have only worked in university libraries in my career, which is now close to three decades. The more you don’t know, the more you learn…

        In any case, whether this goes on that frequently or not or even just once, it makes for a good story. And the fact that it does happen, makes it even better when that story is told in this strip!

  5. Michael says:

    We keep it simple in our library. We refer to the catalog computers as “the card catalog.” It saves a lot of arguing.

    1. Elliot says:

      We just call it the _catalog,_ occasionally online catalog, although the former is fitting as that’s all we’ve offered for a few decades now (hard to believe)!

  6. Robert in San Diego says:

    Not all libraries are “the library.” My church’s little collection to loan does just fine with a card catalog, and book cards in pockets. On the other hand, my science fiction club’s library probably couldn’t be coherently run with cards — but no fear there as most of the users are college age Generation Digital (or whatever they’re being labeled as nowadays). A non-circulating library would be different but if material’s being actively loaned and returned, would 100 square feet of floor space be about the point where computerized catalogs make more sense than cards?

  7. Bookworm1987 says:

    I worked at the library of the German Patent Court. Once a patron came to me and complained because we didn’t have a card catalog with HANDWRITTEN cards! A real librarian should write the catalog cards himself with permanent ink. The patron was really upset.

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