Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Library That Is Our Databases Page

Imagine walking into a large room filled with bound volumes of current and back issues of thousands of magazines and journals, current and back issues of hundreds of newspapers from around the nation, hundreds of reference books on various topics, genealogical records, legal forms, sample tests, literature criticisms, and more.

By visiting our Databases page, you are essentially doing just that. And would it not be great if you could search all of those materials and find related articles within seconds? You can.

As more and more information is found online, it is helpful for us to envision the magnitude of this information if it were still being offered via paper. We would probably have to build a couple more floors here at Central to accommodate the material! Or, we can look back at the way it used to be when we did not have computers.

In 1887, The U.S. War Department attempted to transcribe their medical records onto index cards, which were stored in Ford Theatre. This worked until supposedly the accumulated weight of the index cards "brought down the house", literally. Twenty-two people were crushed to death when the front part of the building collapsed.

Back in 1910, two Belgian lawyers set out to gather all the worlds knowledge by using index cards. The result is the Mundaneum, an archive of more than 12 million index cards and other documents. Nearly 100 years later, we now have the Internet and the Mundaneum gathers dust and decomposes in a converted department store in Belgium.

Until about 10-15 years ago, these index cards would still be seen as serious methods of data collection. Now, it is a farce! So if you ever feel like you are having a difficult time with information overload, just know that it is better than being crushed with index cards.

some via

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