Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Library Corner
by Duncan R. McCoy, Director
Boulder City Library

Online Card Catalog
Today, I’m looking back on 28 years as a library director and thinking about ways libraries used to do things. When I started working in libraries in the early ‘70s, we maintained a card catalog so folks could find books and other things by author, title or subject. Card catalog units were massive pieces of furniture with lots and lots of little drawers with rods at the bottom of each drawer to hold the cards in.


Specialist librarians (“catalogers”) spent their working lives creating descriptions of each item in the library on 3 X 5 cards, typing up the cards, duplicating the cards, typing headings on the cards, and filing the cards. “High-tech” in the early ‘70s was a special mimeograph machine, made by Gestettner, that had a drum on it about the size of a beer can. The cataloger would type the catalog record onto a stencil, wrap the stencil around the drum, pour ink into the drum from the side, put a stack of card stock in the little tray, and turn the hand crank to make as many cards as were needed for the card set. The card duplicators usually sat on a counter top in the back office of the library. To this day, in library building that have been operating for forty or fifty years, you can still see black splotches on the floor from when the duplicators got knocked off the counter.

Boulder City Library closed its card catalog and began using a computer catalog in the mid 1980s. Our current catalog is a web-based online catalog which we share with the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District. The online catalog allows you to search by author, title and subject, just as you would have thirty years ago in the old card catalog. Additionally, you can search by key-word (really handy if you can’t remember official library subject headings). Unlike the old card catalog, you can use our online catalog from home, if you have a computer and internet access. Unlike the old card catalog, you can flip back and forth between Boulder City Library’s collection and those of the libraries in Las Vegas. And finally, unlike the old card catalog, the online catalog will tell you whether the item you want is on the shelf at the Library right now, or if it’s checked out, when the item is due back.

You can find out more by visiting our web site at www.bclibrary.org



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