The era of the card catalog is coming to a close at the University of Wisconsin.
The 6,700 drawers used for decades to house Memorial Library’s public card catalog will be removed in the coming months in order to allow space for additional projects, a UW statement announced Tuesday.
The space will instead be used to support digital humanities research, according to General Library Systems Deputy Director Edward Van Gemert. He added this will not detract from the library experience or usefulness of the library staff.
“Many of the resources acquired today are in electronic format, offering convenient [and] easy access to needed research tools,” Van Gemert said. “Librarians continue to provide top notch professional services.”
The card catalog in Memorial Library has not been maintained in the last 25 years, according to the statement.
Van Gemert said representatives from within the library feel the space should be re-purposed and used more efficiently. This efficiency stems from the digitization of the catalog, which began in 1986, according to the statement, as researchers can now find the cards representing books, journals and other resources in the library online.
“Scholars travel from all over the world to use the amazing collections stored here,” Van Gemert said. “Today, scholars learn of and discover these resources using electronic catalogs available to them anywhere and anytime.”
The General Library Systems’ current project is the Humanities Research Bridge – a partnership between UW’s libraries, DoIT and the College of Letters and Science, according to the statement. The project’s goal is to create new facilities for digital research, workshops and collaborations.
While millions of the cards will be recycled, many of the card cases will be donated to Surplus with a Purpose, a university store, to be sold individually, the statement said. Anyone interested in obtaining a keepsake from the store will be able do so. Memorial Library will also be keeping several of the cards and cases for itself, the statement said.