Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

U-M Library to remove card catalog

The last item was added to the U-M Library card catalog in 1988, and the approximately 12.5 million cards in that catalog were converted to digital form in 1989. In its heyday, the card catalog represented 6.1 million volumes.

Card catalogs such as this will be available for sale after March 8 at Property Disposition. (Photo by Frank Provenzano)

Now the space in the basement stacks areas in the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library where the catalog has been housed will be converted to individual and group study space to help meet the increasing demand from the library’s million-plus visitors each year.

“It’s a bittersweet moment,” says Paul Courant, U-M librarian and dean of libraries. “For many of us, learning to use the library started with learning to use the card catalog, and our card catalog was one of the best, containing within it the means to navigate one of the world’s greatest libraries. The current electronic catalog got its start from those millions of cards, and continues to support the work of faculty, students and the public at Michigan and throughout the world.”

The library will retain one case, cards intact, for permanent display to mark the importance of the catalog in the history of libraries and of the U-M Library, and to be able to show the younger generations how it used to be done.

Researchers, nostalgia buffs and lovers of library furniture interested in owning a snapshot in time can purchase catalog cases with cards intact from Property Disposition after March 8.