Library materials, finding tools change in last 50 years

Here, some old photos remind us that, in the 1970s, many of the materials available to library customers, and the tools used to find them, were different than today.

For example, are you old enough to remember using a card catalog? Row upon row of wooden drawers filled with mostly hand-typed cards searchable by title, author or subject.

three people using card catalog woman and toddler standing at open card catalog drawers card catalog

If you liked comedy films, you might look at the cards under that subject heading and find The Tramp, a film by Charlie Chaplin. This card told library customers The Tramp was a silent, black and white film in super 8 mm format that runs 33 minutes.

catalog card for Charlie Chaplin film

If you preferred magazines and newspapers, you could check the serials listings to learn which titles, and which issues, were owned by the library.

partial list of available serials

Of course, not all materials were readily available for checkout. Some of the serials were available only on microform. What to do? Load up a reel of film, read the magnified images and take notes. If you were lucky the machine you were using might be connected to a photocopy machine so you could print your documents.

man seated at microform machine

It’s funny how things that were once popular, like long-playing records (LPs), fell out of favor with the general public, but then became desirable again decades later.

man looks at an LP

Some things never change, though. One can always find friendly and helpful staff at the Modesto Library. The two women in the first photo below are working in the audiovisual department. The woman in the bottom photo is checking books out at the circulation desk of the “new” Modesto Library in the late ’70s. If she looks familiar, it’s because she is the future FOML president Denise (Petersen) Nordell.2 women work at audiovisual desk

Denise checking out books at circulation desk

If you know the name of anyone pictured in this post, but not identified, please leave a comment so we can properly identify them.