On 11/02/2013 23:14, David Bigwood wrote:
Another hurdle to the card catalog were names that were filed as if they were spelled differently. So Mc was filed under Mac. Numbers were always filed as if there were spelled out, One hundred and one ways, not 101 ways. There were others, that I don’t remember, and most catalog users never suspected. There was a book on ALA filing rules, some helpful. But what catalog user could be expected to know all the rules in that book before successfully using the catalog?
But these presented no problem for the searcher because of the catalog references, e.g. when someone looked for “Mc” in Princeton’s scanned card catalog they would find this card or this card. Such card were worth a lot! And compare the situation today with keyword searching. If somebody looks for “MacDonald” instead of the correct “McDonald” they may never find the person, because the idea of searching for “McDonald” may never enter their heads. Multiply this for zillions of headings.
To make searching easier for the public (including the librarians themselves) was why our predecessors decided to file everything under “Mac”. They could have equally done it under “Mc” but they just chose one. This saved a lot of time because once you knew to look under “Mac” you didn’t have to look in all those different places. And for those who didn’t know, they would see the guide card.
This is an example of the sorts of aids that disappeared completely with computers, and especially keyword searching, and nothing ever replaced them. Nevertheless, I agree that often alphabetical browsing–especially numbers–was extremely difficult for the public but the simple fact is: our catalogs are still based on alphabetical browsing.