Who Killed the Card Catalog?

Room 224 of the Memorial Library was once the brain of the university. The 40 by 80 foot room housed a massive card catalog, one that allowed students and faculty to access a body of knowledge that encompassed the full breadth of civilization. Row upon row of heavy oak cabinets contained countless cards. If you were interested in the pursuit of knowledge, it was a magical place to be.

That card catalog is gone, a victim of the computer. However, lovers of knowledge quickly recovered and today enjoy an outstanding online catalog that allows them to search for information in a fraction of the time it once took with the card catalog. And now Room 224, no longer the brain of the university, stands ready to again become one of the most dynamic rooms on campus.

An exciting plan is in the works to transform Room 224 into a space that addresses what is an enormous campus need. Most library spaces at the UW are reserved for quiet study. Despite that, students are increasingly in need of collaborative space where they can have discussions and presentations. Such space is limited, but where it exists—at the Steenbock Library and College Library—one can quickly see that these types of spaces are an incredible resource for students. A recent survey of students who use the Memorial Library showed they would like to see Room 224 used in this way.

The card catalog might be gone, but a vibrant, knowledge-filled life certainly lies ahead for Room 224.