What Did You Do For Information pre-Internet?
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Anything you want to know in a few seconds. Which leads me to wonder; what did we do pre-internet?
Aside from going to the library, at home I'd use the "Lincoln Library"...a sort of condensed encyclopedia. As well as the New York library Desk reference and Science refernce. What about you?
One would be to go to THE Library, pass between the lions and research a thing if it required that much effort.
The easier would be to go to the local branch, look something up and then go to the local bookstores to order what I needed to gain the knowledge sought.
But then again, I love to research information having been interested in history all my life.
My secret identity, if I had one, would be a research librarian.
a the ability to have resources such as Britannica on hard disc so I didn't have to mess around with CDs every time I wanted to access it;
b broadband rather than pay-by-the-second dial-up
c the huge wealth of information now available
I recently indexed a book on the Great War and (to mention just one site) Wikipedia has a wealth of information on regiments and individuals. Many of the latter do not appear in Britannica or standard biographical dictionaries. I have to say that when indexing I turn first to the internet because it is quicker and "fuller". But then I am already sitting at a computer. If I just come across something when I'm reading or doing a crossword I still head for the shelves.
had a complete 16 Volume Set of books on History
with great color photographs and stories telling you what happened in the time of the Greeks, Romans,
Civil War, WWII, etc. If I wanted to find the name of a Movie or the name of the Actress or Actor of the
Movie I would buy a yearly Video Edition of Leonard
Maltin's book of Videos, also you learned a lot
watching PBS shows like NOVA or Jacques Cousteau
Specials or other National Geographic Specials.
I always looked forward to the leatest Cousteau
One of the really good things that's happened on the internet is the online preprint servers that have popped up. We can now get lots of great papers well before they'll be published in the journals. Back in grad school, we'd get the same thing, but as paper preprints mailed from one school to another, and stuff I wanted to get read would get lost in someone else's office, etc. At least in the physics realm, the Web's done wonders for access to information...
And who didn't love combing through card catalogs for treasures . . .?
Funny, I've been an LTer for a while and never knew there was a group of 40-somethings. Today I noticed that a frequent poster at the Tea! group (my favorite) is a member of the 30-something group, so I looked to see if there is a group of 40s. And here you are!
When I saw this topic, I knew I had to stick around and read.
Seriously, in the Dark Ages I was a frequent visitor to my local public library (or college library, when I was a student). I still am, but now I'm often toting my laptop and using their wi-fi.
I remember card catalogs. While electronic directories are a quicker and (usually) more efficient way to find a particular book, browsing the cards often resulted in delightfully serendipitous finds.
My parents had an encyclopedia at home and we always had a lot of books, so there were some reference materials available at home.
Mostly, I think, it was just normal that if you needed some obscure bit of information it might take a couple of days to locate it. And we survived.
They came out monthly, I think, but then there were larger compendiums covering a longer period.... quarterly or half-yearly, I don't remember. My high school was quite insistent that we use that to look up articles rather than just going to the encyclopedia. I got pretty good at using it and, as the local public high school didn't teach it, sometimes found myself giving impromptu lessons at the library.
Looks like they've gone online now: http://www.hwwilson.com/Databases/Readersg.htm#Literature
Now I use Google News for everyday stuff (and I subscribe to a daily alert on an organization I volunteer with). For more in-depth searches, I'd use the databases at the public library--still the best resource, only it's no longer just paper. And there are some websites that offer specialized directories and, where available, links to articles. Foundation Center (www.FoundationCenter.org) comes to mind.
Even now, if I really want to know something other than entertainment-related info, I feel better using written reference materials. The internet is dodgy, at best, with it's info. I use Wikipedia, or an online version of EB, or Discovery.com, but don't rely on lesser known 'hit' pages for correct info. All of the 'writing-related' advice I've heard from published writers is don't rely on the internet.
I want to go back and do it all over again, with online tools and no reference librarians who run and hide when I approach with a request for interlibrary loan.
Heheh, you said it! I had to extend the deadline for my diploma thesis for another 2 months back in *mumble, mumble*, because I needed stuff from the FAO in Rome that simply took too long.
Today I can actually order interlibrary loans myself via a national web-interface!
Back when I was a child, when the book wasn't available locally, that was it. Today, I check the web catalogue (province-wide), see whether it is available in my town, and if not, order it online from another library in the province, at 1.50€. Or if it still isn't available, change to the national catalogue and do a nationwide search and interlibrary loan/copy for 2€. A steal, really. I am now doing more interlibrary loans for private purposes than I did at Uni (mostly ordering English language books).
We used our World Book set. I was heartbroken when, in jr. high, my parents decided we needed to "upgrade" to Britannica. I found World Book more friendly. They also subscribed to National Geographic, which provide info for many a paper.
The public library was a regular haunt, particularly in high school when a branch was 1/2 mile bike ride away. Seems to be a theme for me, I now live 1-1/2 blocks from a public library branch.
My son Googles or uses Encarta. Some of his teachers will require say, 5 sources and 3 must be non-Internet. Yay!
I wouldn't trade the access to information I have now, but I do miss the card catalogs. All the little drawers with the cards all organized.... I want one for my house... *sigh*
Yes, hunting for info in a library was definitely different from hacking a search word into the Google interface. And going through cards from 1870 is definitely something special, as is getting a book that was published in 1850 or thereabouts.
Hey, I actually DID! After using online research and Google Docs, I then exported it to OpenOffice.org to do the final formatting. (Can't believe how easy footnotes are!) And the first time it saw paper was the final draft.
It was a blast and I got an A. :-)
My mother subscribed to Encyclopedia Britannica and I used to use those a lot.
I was really good at using a card catalog. I think that is one of the reasons why I immediately became a squealing fangirl when I found LibraryThing...
I also remember how hard it was to get the footnotes looking just right on a typewriter. Am so grateful for computers.
The advent of personal computers was a miracle that I welcomed from the word go.
As to the topic of the thread, well, my whole family has always had a "looking things up" culture. Not only did we quaintly have family dinners sitting down together, but at least once during every dinner some question or point of curiosity came up, and one of us would quickly jump up to consult various reference books, including the World Book encyclopedia set, National Geographic issues, Newsweek issues, medical reference manual, Durant history books, dictionaries, etc. I also spent much time in libraries throughout my youth. I should also mention that I did and I still do ask my Dad for facts, as he really has what I call encyclopedic knowledge of many different fields. I was totally prepped as a "natural" to fall in love with internet search engines and online references. At this point in my life, I could never go back; I think I would panic if I couldn't look up any type of obscure information in the world within a few seconds.
PDeebs: I grew up in the midwest, and the main exciting thing when our class took trips to the school library and the librarian taught us how to use the card catalog was that she was from Massachusetts, so she called it a cahhhd catalog. That will always stick in my head! I think it would be cool to have the cabinet with the little drawers, too, although I'm not sure for what yet.
"I think I would panic if I couldn't look up any type of obscure information in the world within a few seconds."
Grammargoddess: I would love to have a card catalog cabinet too. That would be awsome....Karen5l: tea would fit in the narrow drawers....
The internet makes it easier to find answers where in the past we had to look harder for answers. Life is easier now, no doubt, for me anyway.
Like several others I can't imagine going back to not being able to look up something quickly. But I think the biggest change is how easy it is to wander from one topic to another to another. The browser tools I use the most are the ones that let me branch off to other topics, or build up a list to follow up on while I'm reading. Browsing the stacks in the library would let me find a lot of stuff on more-or-less the same topic, and sometimes some real surprises, but leaping from DNA to stable geometric shapes to buckyballs to Buckmister Fuller to home design to Frank Lloyd Wright?
Hmm. As I describe that, I wonder if books like Salt aren't as much a consequence of the internet as anything else.