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A farewell to the card catalog

November 29, 2011

It will be the end of an era when the public card catalog is removed from its home in room 224 of Memorial Library on the UW–Madison campus.

Photo: Card catalogs

The venerable card catalog’s days are numbered in the Memorial Library.

Withdrawal of the 6,700 drawers’ worth of cards will begin shortly, with the removal of their 112 cases to be completed in mid-May after spring semester, to make room for new types of library spaces devoted to fostering innovative approaches to research and technology.

Card catalogs used to represent all of the books, journals, and resources in the libraries’ collections. Memorial Library’s card catalog has not been updated since 1987 after the first online catalog was implemented in 1986.

The millions of cards will be recycled and the majority of card cases will go to the university SWAP (Surplus with a Purpose) store where they are sold individually. SWAP is open to the public for those in the market for a piece of library history. Memorial Library is also planning on keeping some of the built-in cases and a sampling of cards.

The current plan is to use the space for a new Libraries’ initiative called The Humanities Research Bridge. The collaboration with DoIT Academic Technology and the College of Letters & Science Learning Support Services will provide a suite of services and spaces designed to facilitate and advance collaborative research in the humanities.

The space is intended to provide a hub for building a strong network of scholars, graduate students, and staff interested in digital research, workshops, consultations, and collaborations.