CyPix: Ode to the Card Catalog

The card catalog. That gargantuan set of filing cabinets with drawers full of catalog record cards was oh, so useful in the days before wide-spread internet access. Now, of course, we search for the library items we want or need on the online catalog, which is easier in many ways. Many of you probably remember using the card catalog to find the books you wanted, not unlike the student in the photo below.

A student using the card catalog, 1948. [location]

A student researching near the card catalog, 1948. RS 25/3/F, Box 2046

This is how I learned to navigate libraries, too, and am part of the last generation to do so. Card catalogs bring about feelings of nostalgia in people – you can even purchase old ones to use for storage or conversation pieces in your home! However, moving the catalog online provided major benefits like saving space that can be used for other things like study areas or more stacks, and convenience – we can just type in a title and see right away if it’s available. Still, although the card catalog is more or less extinct in its natural habitat, it is an iconic piece of library history.

Feeling nostalgic? More photos of card catalogs in Parks Library can be found here. Also, in case you want to know about its origins and some fun facts, here is a history of the card catalog. Many more photographs involving the library or other buildings and departments on campus can be found in our University Photograph Collection – come in and see what we can find for you!

CyPix: Morrill Hall Library

Ever wonder what the ISU Library was like in the early days? Well, I’m about to shed some light on that mystery with the photo below.

Morrill Hall Library, circa 1910. The library resided here from 1891 to 1914, then was relocated to Beardshear Hall.

Morrill Hall Library, circa 1910. The library resided here from 1891 to 1914, then was relocated to Beardshear Hall. (University Photographs, 4/8/H, box 157)

Originally, the Library was located in Old Main. In 1891, it was moved to Morrill Hall, where it resided on the first floor, south of the central stairway. In 1914, it was relocated to Beardshear Hall, and the Agricultural Extension Offices and Document Room took its place in Morrill. Construction of the Library’s very own building began in 1923. It was dedicated in 1925, and is still there today. Of course, it looks quite a bit different now due to renovations and additions.

This information and more can be found in our online exhibits, Morrill Hall: A Brief History and From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History. Also have a look at RS 4/8/4, Buildings and Grounds Records, for more information on the buildings in which the Library has resided. The photo above can be found on our Flickr site along with other library photos!

CyPix: Earth Day in the ISU Library

In the fall of 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin called for environmental teach-ins on college and university campuses throughout the country during the following spring. Nelson also called for a nationwide teach-in on April 22, 1970. With this movement, Earth Day was born.

Iowa State University Library supported the environmental teach-in movement, as we can see in this photo from the 1970s. Two students are holding a book entitled Man: An Endangered Species? from the Environmental Teach-In Collection.


Two students hold a book entitled "Man: An Endangered Species?" amid the low shelves of the Environmental Teach-In Collection, while other students sit in the chairs near the collection.

Two students hold a book from the ISU Library’s Environmental Teach-In Collection, circa 1970. RS 4/8/H Library, Box 148.

Beginning in the 1970s, there have been many student environmental groups on campus, such as Ecodefenders (RS 22/4/0/1), Emerging Green Builders (RS 22/7/0/1), Engineers for a Sustainable World (RS 22/10/0/1), the Student Environmental Council (RS 22/4/0/1), among others. Collections for these groups are listed along with other environmental collections in our Environment and Sustainability Collections Guide. Come in and check out how ISU has been involved in the environmental movement!

Happy Earth Day!