Well after only twelve weeks with OCLC, I’m proud to say that I received fantastic support for my first business plan presented to the strategic leadership team. I thought this was going to be a hard sell, but its overwhelming support among libraries was what really pushed things over the top. I take seriously OCLC’s commitment to reduce costs for libraries, so I wanted to build a solution that would both shake things up and save more than just a buck.
I have proposed that OCLC begin mass production of card-catalog cards, along with due-date cards and pockets. The first ten libraries to adopt this new old solution will get refinished custom made cabinets for the cards, formerly known as “card catalogs.”
I’m no Nicholson Baker, but I think it’s time we got back to our roots. When you think about it, the old system wasn’t really broken–computerizing the library was just a quarter-century long plot toward raking in the bucks to fix the Y2K problem. With 2000 nearly a decade behind us, I think it’s time we forgot about that costly and foolish investment and re-invested in some technology that patrons and librarians both understand. Picture if you will drawers labeled alphabetically, for the alphabet is a classification system that the reading populace understands. Drawer pulls that fit fingers large and small, and an easy-to-use “flip-through” system that allows you to browse the the entire collection in a way that 90% of the electronic catalogs out there don’t even allow.
Not only will this change remove the costly and ineffective integrated library system from a library’s bottom line, but ALA’s upcoming “National Shelf-reading Month” would be a great time for libraries to replace flimsy and needlessly anonymizing date stamp slips with sturdy checkout cards that give readers a handy list of other patrons who have enjoyed the book they are enjoying. Face it, those cards and scribbles in the margins were the real first social network for books.
I’m really pretty confident that this idea will spread like wildfire There are hundreds of card catalogs available at consignment stores and on eBay. And once all the books themselves have been shipped off to remote storage, just think of the square footage that could be devoted to a truly workable finding aid for libraries.
I’m taking orders now.