Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

The End of Card Catalogs


It may be hard to believe, but until recently there were still archives that used card catalogs as their primary or backup indexing method. This antiquated form of records management fell out of mainstream usage decades ago, but resources continued to exist for organizations that believed in having redundant analog systems to complement their modern technology.

That support has now been shut down in light of waning usage, after the creation of over 1.9 billion cards. “Print library catalogs served a useful purpose for more than 100 years, making resources easy to find within the walls of the physical library,” said Skip Prichard, President and CEO of the non-profit Online Computer and Library Center (OCLC) . “Today, libraries are taking their collections to their users electronically, wherever they may be. Collections are searchable online, and through popular search engines. Thousands of libraries are globally interconnected through high-speed networks, and in many cases their digitized collections are available and accessible to readers and researchers from anywhere in the world.”

The vast majority of libraries discontinued their use of the printed catalog cards many years ago, and the printing of the last cards is largely symbolic. But it is worth noting that this system served organizations well for generations, and provided an important step in the continuing evolution of information science. Today, even the legacy catalogs themselves are being digitized through document imaging and OCR technology; reducing the amount of manual information entry required to transition to computer driven methods.

Modern information management practices are highly organized, user friendly, and efficiency focused; saving both time and money. The Data Vault has been helping organizations plan and implement systems through our wide range of solutions for over 30 years, and we can assist businesses of any type. Contact us today for more information about how our team of experts can make your information work for you (not the other way around).


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