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Re: How were holdings kept in the old days? Oberg, Steve 03 Jun 2004 19:27 UTC

This thread is definitely taking me down memory lane...My first job out
of library school was as a serials cataloger for a large, Chicago-area
ARL institution.  It was a great introduction to the profession, I must
say.  However, at that time, serial holdings were maintained on 3x5
cards in what was called the "Serial Record" -- a series of open,
waist-high, wooden tables with a bazillion cards interfiled
alphabetically.  There was also an inactive file kept in an old
file-type machine whose name I've forgotten (wish I could remember),
which kept cards in drawers that revolved in much the same way as a
ferris wheel.  There are SERIALST subscribers from that institution who
are more familiar with this than I am and could no doubt provide clearer
details.  Up to about 1992, maybe 1993, if there had been a fire or some
other disaster that destroyed that very large collection of 3x5 cards,
the library would have really had a challenge on its hands :-)

I think it was close to the time I started working there that planning
began on converting this information into online form.  Yet we still had
a heavily-paper-based workflow when I began there in 1992.  Part of the
job of serials catalogers at the time was to type up a serial record
entry card (for recording holdings by hand) as one of the final steps of
cataloging a new title.  There were strict regulations for how to fill
these out, and how to file them.  For that reason, every serials
cataloger had a typewriter on his or her desk as standard equipment.  I
can still recall with humor (although it wasn't funny at the time) my
first day on the job, being told "how lucky I was" that I had been given
a *brand new* electric typewriter.  I was shocked, somehow naively
expecting that I might have my own desktop PC (which I didn't get until
several years later, btw).  At the same time, as a new UIUC GSLIS grad,
I was used to using email and desktop PC applications.  At that time, it
seemed that this institution's idea of high tech was an IBM XT
compatible dumb terminal, and very few people used email.  In the first
year or so of employment, in order to read my email I had to go to a
student computer lab.

Things have dramatically changed since then, at that institution and
elsewhere!  Now, I look back on my experience with a largely paper-based
workflow as a good experience to have had.  When I told students in a
tech. svcs. course I taught at the Univ. of Illinois last fall about my
experience, it boggled their minds ;-)


Steve Oberg
Electronic Resources Librarian &
  Assistant Professor
Taylor University

-----Original Message-----
From: Carol Morse [mailto:MorsCa@WWC.EDU]
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2004 12:52 PM
Subject: Re: [SERIALST] How were holdings kept in the old days?

We still produce a printed list, updated every year, several copies of
which are spread around the library. It's quite popular. Sometimes it's
faster to look on a list than log onto a catalog. It's not too hard to
revise it, since the files are all saved from year to year. Carol Morse

>>> otto.sillius@SHERIDANC.ON.CA 6/2/2004 8:47:15 AM >>>
We produced a "Union List of Periodicals".  It showed title, start date
volume and end date if not currently received.  A copy was kept at the
circulation desk and reference desk.  I also included a Subject Guide to
the holdings.  That was a long time ago....

> Back when libraries still had card catalogs, and even before word
> processing, how were periodicals holdings lists kept? Were there
> annotations on the cards in the catalog? Was the Kardex kept near
> reference? Some other method?
> Curious,
> Steve Black
> Reference, Serials, and Instruction Librarian
> The College of Saint Rose
> 392 Western Avenue
> Albany, NY 12203-1419
> (518)458-5494

Otto Sillius
Library Technician
Sheridan College Library
1430 Trafalgar Road
Oakville, Ontario  L6H 2L1