History Of Libraries In The 1960s

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U.S. Libraries in the 1960s The 1960s were a time of significant change for the United States, so much so this era is often referred to as “the rights revolution” (CrashCourse). The United States experienced the continuation of the Civil Rights Movement, the youngest elected president, John F. Kennedy—and the youngest president to die, the first manned moon landing, and seemingly everything in between. In a country that was so fraught with change, it only seems fitting that libraries were undergoing significant changes also. The 1960s were a time of strife in the United States, especially so in the South. Jim Crow laws, which originated after the Reconstruction period, were still enforced—requiring all public places to enforce racial segregation. …show more content…
However, according to W. Boyd Rayward, Professor Emeritus in the Library in Information Science school at the University of Illinois, Librarians were hesitant to adopt some of the new technologies—such as the use of punch cards—until after World War II (2-3). The punch card system, invented in 1890, slowly found its way into libraries; it is estimated that at least one library began using punch cards for cataloging in the mid to late 1960s, and the Library of Congress began experimenting with punch card catalogs in the mid-1940s. It is fitting that the Library of Congress would be the first to implement the first non-experimental punched-card catalog; however, the Library of Congress’s first punched-card catalog was for periodicals, not books. What is really interesting though, is that the “first successful punched-card catalog for books is believed to have been in the King County (Washington) Public Library system…distributed in 1951” (Dewey 36). The punch card system was the one of the earliest, if not the earliest, forms of automation introduced into libraries. Punch cards allowed for inexpensive and easy duplication of the catalog, and it was easy to add or remove cards when the collection changed (Dewey …show more content…
In April, Seattle hosted the Century 21 Exposition—aka the Seattle World’s Fair—and the ALA had an exhibit called “Library-21”. The goal of the exhibit was to showcase the role of technology in future libraries. Their exhibit featured a UNIVAC computer, visitors could ask a librarian a question who would then use the UNIVAC to find the answer from the information stored in the computer. The purpose was to show how much quicker and easier the computer made finding answers to reference questions. The other main part of their exhibit focused on microfilm and multiple projection techniques (Davies). Microforms, originally produced as early as the 1830s, were actively used in 1960s libraries. Before the 1960s though, microforms were industriously used during World War II. The military used microforms for the Victory Mail system, letters between soldiers and their families were written on special forms that were then “microphotographed and airlifted as microfilm” (ALA). The military utilized microfilm for overseas communication because it took up less space and it was lighter than traditional forms of communication (letters) would have been. In the 1940s, when US involvement in World War II was imminent, many people began to realize that it was important to take steps to preserve valuable cultural material; thus, the task of microfilming these important

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