on metadata and the printed word

last checked out in 1963

I went to the Belmont Public Library this weekend because it’s my boyfriend’s local library and he is, as you might suspect, a heavy library user. The library is in an old building that is clearly reaching the end of its usefulness as a 21st century library, but they seem to do the best they can. They are part of the Minuteman Library Network which means they have access to a lot of consortium-level technology which can really help out when you’re working in an institutional-green building with furniture from the late seventies. I had a good time there in any case and I took some pictures including the one above.

What first got me about this book was that it hadn’t been taken out since 1963. Well, that’s not quite correct. We know it was checked out in 1963 and was possibly checked out after [whatever date the OPAC took over] a date I don’t know. What occurred to me later as I looked at this picture is how much else we know about this book simply by looking at this card.

  • the date the book was acquired by the library
  • the title of the book
  • the last name of the author of the book
  • The patron number of the person who checked the book out last
  • the call number of the book
  • the library the book is from
  • the lending period of the book
  • the date the book was last checked out (before the OPAC)
  • the fact that the library card pocket was union made

That’s a lot of data. I can also, using that data, find the full text of this book both at the Internet Archive (a little messed up, for some reason) and as PDFs (with images) at the Google Books project which is searchable. In fact, there appear to be three versions of this book on Google Books (1, 2, 3) only one of which includes page two which has a photo of the author. Nothing much else to add, just finding this whole exploration process interesting.

2 Responses to “on metadata and the printed word”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I love book pockets and cards, and really miss them. Those long printed slips (which I just lose) don’t cut it for me.

  2. Joy Kennedy Says:

    Talk about metadata, remember when we had shelflist cards in the catalog department? Some of those in a library I worked at were actually handwritten with notes on them as to where they were purchased (or given as gifts), their list price, their purchase price, etc. etc. Cards for standing order reference volumes sometimes had info on when they had queried the publisher for release date for the latest ed. I even remember an few wry comments indicating disbelieve about the release date. Sorry to see those go when automation came along.