Not your Grandma’s Library

By Sherrie DeMartino, Branch Manager of the Carroll Valley Library

Being one of the old-timers with the library system, I have seen a lot of changes over the course of my library career. Believe it or not, when I first started in 1995, the library was not even computerized. Library cards were made of paper that had a rectangular metal strip with a number imprinted on it. That number was assigned to you whenever you applied for a library card. Your name was typed on the top of the card (with a typewriter!).

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When you wanted to check a book out, the book’s card (that was located inside a pocket when you opened the front cover of the book) would be put in a machine along with your library card, stamped with your library card number, and then replaced with a due date card. The next morning, the librarians would file the cards alphabetically or numerically in a wooden box. I remember that distinctly, because one morning, I knocked the box over and spent a long time paying for my clumsiness!

The way that you look up a book has changed too. Does anyone remember the old card catalog drawers? Each book had three index cards typed up to place in the card catalog. The first one listed the book by title, the second by author, and the third by subject heading. The card catalog cabinet took up a lot of space and typing all of those cards for each book was definitely labor intensive.

In 1995, the internet was just starting to show up on the scene. I remember staying after work to use my new yahoo e-mail account because no one had the internet or a computer at home yet. Hard to imagine, now that everyone carries a computer/cell phone in their pocket.

When I first started, the library was all about books and that was about it. Over the years, we have seen VHS movies added to the system and then replaced with a huge collection of DVDs (classics, new releases, and everything in between).

Audiobooks, an invention first made for the blind, started becoming popular with commuters and were added on cassette and then eventually on CD.

As life has become more and more computerized, the library has added many on-line databases, like HeritageQuest, Mango Languages, and JobNow, that you can easily access for your research needs. We have also added e-books and e-audiobooks that you can read or listen to on your electronic devices. These became incredibly popular during the pandemic and continue to be one of our most circulated items.

Most of our library materials are housed in our main library that is located in Gettysburg. Over the years, we have developed a way to keep the collections at the smaller branches new and interesting by exchanging part of our collection every week with items from the Gettysburg branch. That way, patrons will have different titles to look at when they visit. The Gettysburg Library provides this service through our delivery van that visits us six days a week and through the help of our many library volunteers.

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