Tech Talk in Our Newsletter

From the very beginning of the More Than Books newsletter, there has been a “Tech Talk” article. The first “Tech Talk” appeared in December 1997’s Vol. 1 No. 1 and began with a question: “Did you know that there is a Technical Services Department in the library?”   The article went on to discuss the ordering and processing of texts and books for the library and concludes by acknowledging those benefactors who had donated more than one-hundred books to the library in the preceding year. 

It is significant that the dawn of “Tech Talk” dealt exclusively in distinctly physical formats: books and texts (periodicals, papers, etc.).  A review of the eighty subsequent issues of More than Books and “Tech Talk” reveals an overall trend of the library shifting from an emphasis on physical holdings to that of electronic resources.

This transformation predates even More Than Books. As recorded in Vol. 1 No. 4 by Director Robin Bernstein in the essential modern history of Freeman-Lozier Library, “The Way We Were,” the library’s first computer arrived in 1983: a cumbersome terminal “used for DIALOG staff-assisted searches.” The first PC followed in 1987, a machine designated for OCLC, or Online Computer Library Center. The banner year of 1994 brought both the metamorphosis of Bellevue College into Bellevue University and the library’s switch from a classic card catalog to an automated system.

From there, things picked up steam, or rather, microprocessors accelerated. “Tech Talk” brought the library’s microform room to the attention of readers in Vol. 1 No. 2 and, eighteen years later, announced the completed deaccessioning of the library’s microfilm and microfiche collection in Vol. 19 No. 4. “Tech Talk” said goodbye to audio and VCR cassettes “with a heavy heart” in 2014, citing the removal of all VCRs on campus as a primary reason. Similar projects to move out physical materials no longer utilized by our patrons included a major bound journal weeding project, documented here just last issue, and the extensive weeding of the reference section, the tale of which is yet to come.

Truly, the More Than Books newsletter collection at http://library.bellevue.edu/about/library-newsletter/ is an excellent source from which to follow the evolution of library technologies over the last twenty years. CD-ROM databases, digitized archives, online renewal, librarian chat, cloud storage, Kindles, crowdsourced metadata, mobile circulation, open access literature, and demand driven acquisition have all been announced as new technologies here, with their nuances further explored in the newsletters that followed.

What changes will the next twenty years bring for Bellevue University’s Freeman-Lozier Library? Considering the possibilities can boggle the mind. Libraries are increasingly locations where universities and other communities come together for all sorts of purposes, whether for academic research, collaborative projects, or technological resources. Some innovations now commonplace belonged to science fiction twenty years ago.

Prognostication is not traditionally the business of “Tech Talk,” so please make your own predictions in the margins of the print version of this newsletter, or in a digital format hopefully compatible in the future, and revisit those ideas twenty years hence. Here is to future paleo-futurism.

Originally posted in the Freeman/Lozier Library’s quarterly newsletter, More Than BooksV. 21 No. 2, Spring 2018.

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