Monday, June 10, 2013

Drake Library Reference Desk 1993

A little walk down memory lane today, prompted by the archivist running across this snapshot in the archives. It shows the library reference (information) desk about 1993. The desk then was placed at the base of the central stairs on the main floor, about where the scanners are today. Meg McCreery is the librarian seated at the desk, and Greg Toth is standing by her. Greg is still here, but Meg moved to Connecticut many years ago.

Notice on the wall on the left of the photo all the print library guides we used to offer. Nowadays we have our research guides online, but the advent of the World Wide Web was still a couple years away in 1993. On the desk where Meg is seated you can see a classic "dumb" terminal of that time, this one accessing our catalog, which had been computerized in the late 1980s - the first SUNY four year school to do so! You might notice that there is no mouse, and of course there wasn't; this was still the era of keyboard commands and prompts, no computer mouse yet.

Behind Meg is a microfiche reader, which we used to skim through the microfiche of the regional library "serials holding list," a list to help us direct people when looking for journals outside our library. Nowadays we would use WorldCat, which we did have then, but only in a couple locations, and not out on the floor for use with the public.

You can't see it in the picture, but behind the reference desk was the beginnings of the extensive PC & Mac labs in the library. There was a long table with perhaps four different PCs, each running one or another CD ROM database of that era. That was it, no PC's connected to the Internet and WWW, no Google, all that was still years off.

Again not in the photo is the double line of "index" tables running from the reference desk towards the main entrance. Each table held a run of an index like Psych Abstracts or Science Index. To find articles you would look through the indexes, then check a catalog terminal like Meg had at her desk to see if we had the journal, and then go downstairs to get it and photocopy it.

Certainly a great deal of change has taken place in the last twenty years in terms of the tools and resources we have, but we still are in the business of helping people conduct their research and to find the information they seek.

1 comment:

Pat Maxwell said...

I think I see a third librarian in the rear right corner of this photo: Charlie Cowling, the very author of this blog post! Thanks Charlie for the flashback; our library has come a long way improving services to our campus.