Collaboration is Saving the Old Card Catalog at UVA’s Alderman Library

Alderman Library

Created over a 50-year span from 1939 to 1989, that catalog grew to about 4 million cards in 65 cabinets with 4,000 drawers.

These little index cards from the library’s old physical card catalog might contain information that is unique about a particular book – and therefore, the library’s holdings and the University’s history. The information neatly typed on the cards – which library workers sometimes supplemented with handwritten notes on front and back – includes details that in many cases are not typically part of the electronic catalog system, Virgo, that the University Library switched to in 1989. At the time, the catalog was transferred by scanning that captured only the front of the cards.

For more information click on the link below:

https://news.virginia.edu/content/old-card-catalog-collaborative-effort-will-preserve-its-history

UVA logo

“The University’s library system has undergone many complex changes over the past two centuries, and with every development in cataloging come new opportunities for errors in transcription, so this is not an indictment of past or present librarians! Quite the contrary: it’s a testament to just how fortunate we are at UVA to have (and to have had) such thorough librarians, catalogers and filers…

8 thoughts on “Collaboration is Saving the Old Card Catalog at UVA’s Alderman Library”

    1. I can remember it was a badge of honor when you could file into the drawer rather than filing above the rod so someone could check behind you. But LC Subject headings are arbitrary. I was doing a paper on Women in the Military–the subject heading that gave me the information was United States–Department of Defense (or whatever service)–Women. That is not intuitive at all. LOL on your comment .

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think it’s wonderful that the card catalogue is being preserved as a historical and bibliographic artifact. In the two libraries I worked in (one at university, the other a public library), when the catalogue went online, the card catalogue was swiftly disposed of as taking up valuable space. While there was some truth to that, I’m glad at least one university appreciates the work and scholarship it represents. And I noted the recognition of the invisible cataloguers!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I miss the card catalog too, when I first worked at the library they were still being used. The San Francisco Public library took the index cards and decorated a few walls with them like wallpaper. People would often comment on them with admiration.

    Liked by 1 person

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