Paso Robles library changed card catalog with computer systems3 min read
Is banning books ever effective?
If a special interest creates a list of banned music or books, that only stokes my curiosity.
For example, Florida’s Duval County has 176 books on a banned list including “Cow on the Town: Practicing the Ow Sound,” a Rosen Phonics reader by Isabella Garcia.
The book documents the life of the titular cow, Miss Brown, who finds her way to town.
I haven’t read the complete text. However, I can confirm it includes a page with the sentence “Miss Brown sees a clown. The clown falls down.”
What is Duval County worried about? Is there a hidden danger in children learning “to identify, recognize, and use the /ow/ sound?”
The natural instinct of every librarian I have met is to try to get information into the hands of readers.
If I have to pick sides, I’m on the side of the librarians.
Back in June 23, 1988, David Eddy wrote about the Paso Robles City Library transitioning from banks of drawers holding the card catalog to computers that displayed flickering words of type.
The library was then housed in the building that now is home to the Paso Robles History Museum and Historical Society.
Library users now hunt, peck for books
PASO ROBLES — If steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie today walked into the library he endowed years ago, his eyes would likely bulge out his head.
For Carnegie would find people — many of them young children — tapping away at computer keyboards to find the books they want.
The City Library installed a new computer system recently that makes the time-consuming search through card catalogs unnecessary, though catalogs are still there for those who can’t break the habit.
With either of the two terminals a user can find — within just a few seconds — whether the library has the desired author or title. And by hitting another button, the screen will print out what’s available in the larger Black Gold system.
Black Gold is a cooperative library system that includes San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and Ventura libraries. There are more than 30,000 titles in the Black Gold system, said Paso Robles City Librarian Ann Martin.
The computer will let the person tapping into the Black Gold system know which library has the desired book. If that book is on the shelf of the listed library, it can be sent to Paso Robles within a week, said Martin.
A user can also search for books by looking up the subject — like a card catalog — through the computer can do it much faster.
For instance, if a person wanted a book on spelunking — cave exploring, that is — he just types the word in. But nothing is listed for the Paso Robles Library.
By changing the scope of the search to the Black Gold system, however, the title “caving” appears with six titles, such as “Cave Exploring,” below.
Thus in less than a minute, the prospective spelunker can find out what information is available and where to get it.
The tree new terminals — one will soon be hooked up in the Children’s Library downstairs — cost about $2,500 each, said Martin.
Martin has been pleasantly surprised by the way the computers have been received. She thought that many patrons, particularly senior citizens, would be hesitant to tackle the modern technology, but that hasn’t been the case.
“People have just sat down and started working with it.”