April 6, 2009

Anybody remember card catalogs?

My daughter sent me this...

"Google Classic" postcard

It's pretty funny, but also interesting to me because, well, that's the way it was...

Back in the misty past, like the 1980's or 90's. Back before the earth began to cool, there used to be a service for searching for rare and out-of-print books. You would go to a used-book store and ask for something. They would offer to search for a book they didn't have, for a small fee. Then they would mail in the query which would be printed on a weekly list that was mailed to all subscribing stores. Booksellers all around the country—or maybe the world—would peruse the list and try to spot something they had in stock. Then they could send a card to the store that searched for it, and they in turn would contact you with an offer.

It seemed impressively efficient at the time. Similarly, at the public library I used to fill out a one-page form and pay a couple of bucks to do an inter-library loan request. Now I can, via the SFPL's web page, search a wide variety of libraries in the region, and click to request a book. (Don't use the service if you are absent-minded. They charge a dollar a day for late books.)

Posted by John Weidner at April 6, 2009 7:56 AM
Weblog by John Weidner