A word about Card catalogs– digital and physical– and Pinterest?

I imagine that many of you have seen the news that came out today, where the appellate court upheld the ruling that Google’s Library Project is legal. What is the Google Library Project? In a nutshell, Google has partnered with a number of large libraries to scan their physical books and index them, allowing them to be searchable through Google. The favorite phrase to use about it is to say its like “a digital card catalog.” Well and good, you say, but we do have a physical card catalog. What is the purpose of something like this?

For a place like Thomas More, its a fabulous resource. We have a (relatively) small collection, and it is entirely possible that our students will need something we don’t possesses. There aren’t many libraries out there with a budget that allows them to simply purchase a book that may fulfill a researcher’s need. As I was reviewing my notes from pervious work with the library, there was repeated mention of the College’s digital resources, which seemed odd to me, as there are not currently any digital subscriptions. And then I realized that, at some point in the distant past, there was a word document that was put together and loaded on various desktops the school owned; the word document contained links to freely available resources on the internet that had been vetted in some capacity. Not a bad idea, but hard to maintain and hard to distribute when everyone owns a laptop.

The news today got me thinking about that old, out of date word document. There are resources such as the Google Library Project, Project Gutenberg, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the Purdue OWL, and so many more that are good and useful, but not immediately accessible to a student if they have not previously heard of them. That is part of our job as librarians, to provide digital resources to our population, wherever they may be. Larger institutions have things like LibGuides and robust websites on which to showcase their findings. But what of small institutions with no OPAC, no public website? A word doc on a desktop is no longer sufficient. My initial inclination is start several Pinterest boards and have the links disseminated. Its free, its publically accessible, and it might even be a good resource for those outside our little community. You can create as many boards as you like, even to the point of creating boards for each spring’s junior projects and senior theses. Or is such an idea too far?

Should we go the Pinterest route or is there a better online collection option? Any and all suggestions are welcome!


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