Zettelkatalog der Library of Congress

Der Zettelkatalog der Library of Congress ist seit der Rekatalogisierung in den 80er Jahren eigentlich obsolet. Trotzdem ist er nach wie vor zugänglich und verteilt sich heute auf mehrere Gebäude (via atlasobscura.com):

«Today the Library of Congress card catalog is spread across several buildings and hallways on Capitol Hill. The Main Card Catalog is located on the first floor of the Jefferson Building (next to the Main Reading Room). The Law Library reading room is also known to have some of the old cards. And part of it is stored in the basement of the Library of Congress Madison building.

The Library of Congress card catalog system dates back to 1898. By 1901 the LC Card Division was producing vast quantities of them for sale to libraries across the country. Every book in the collection had a standardized card listing, relevant metadata, and cross-referenced topics.

There’s something undeniably interesting about perusing the rows of cards, taking in the subtle variations in typography and handwriting on each one. The cards are pleasantly tactile, and the paper has the faint smell of old book. It’s the same physical power that keep some book lovers from ever making the switch from hardcover to ebook, convenience be damned.

Romance aside, digitalization of the card catalog made a lot of sense. “But to some people, it’s an icon,” LC Director of Planning Bob Zich told the Washington Post in 1984. “It’s like a religion.”

Modernization proceeded under the direction of Henriette D. Avram, a former NSA programmer and pioneering female computer scientist. The project began in 1967, but was not complete until the mid-1980s because of the vastness of the Library of Congress collection.”

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