Remember when access to the library’s collection of books depended on how thoroughly you looked through the card catalog? For the first twenty years after the UMass Dartmouth Library opened in 1972, students, faculty and staff primarily used the card catalog for their research. A card for a single volume was duplicated many times and cross-listed under various subjects pertinent to its content, the author’s name, the title, and other access points. UMass Dartmouth Library had rows and rows of oak card file furniture which contained almost two million cards at one time. In 1991 it began its decline into obsolescence; in September of that same year, the catalog went online for the first time, with the implementation of MultiLIS. The purchase and installation of this software to automate the library was funded through an HEA Title IID College Library Technology and Cooperation Grant shared with Bridgewater State College. The process of conversion began sometime in the late 1980s, in preparation for software installation in 1990.
The online public access catalog has been upgraded a couple of times since 1991, most recently with our implementation of Primo, the new discovery search and delivery service. The oak cabinets were removed several years ago. The following images are of original cards from the catalog; a student using MultiLIS, with the old card catalog still in use (a transitional period no doubt); the library newsletter announcing the first online catalog; a student using a public access terminal with a printer; and the Claire T. Carney Library Learning Commons today. The photos were all taken by the library’s Photographics Department at one time or another.