Obsolete Technology, Fondren Edition: 1979

First, many thanks to everyone who helped solve the mystery of when Saturday classes ended. It was indeed 1968.

Second, I’m home sick today so all I have is another question. Last week a colleague in the English Department gave me this card, which she found stuck inside a book:

A quick perusal of the catalog turns up the fact that the book attached to the call number at the very top left is The Text of Keats’ Poems by Jack Stillinger, published in 1974, so that works with the 1979 checkout date.

My question is this: does anyone know what machine this card would have interacted with? We’ve had discussions in the past about some library computation projects that were research related but it isn’t clear to me what they would have used to actually just check out books.

Bonus: Lovett Hall tulips.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Obsolete Technology, Fondren Edition: 1979

  1. Mark Williamson says:

    That was used with the checkout system in use in the late 1960s (at least 66-69) based on IBM 357 hardware.

  2. Mark Williamson says:

    That was used with the checkout system in use in the late 1960s (at least 66-69) based on IBM 357 hardware.

  3. almadenmike says:

    This 1970 Rand Corp. paper (“Library Circulation Systems — An Overview” by Cecily Surace — https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/703282.pdf) includes on page 23 a reference to a paper by Rice’s head of library circulation, Fred Rueckling, Jr. … “Selecting a circulation-control system: a mathematical approach,” which was published in the September 1964 issue of the journal College and Research Libraries, pp.385-390.

    The citation’s summary said:

    “Develops a series of equations which the author believes were helpful in analyzing the circulation system at Rice University and which contributed to the decision to install an IBM 357 data collection.

    “There is very little data available to compare the effectiveness of different circulation systems. The equations offered do not satisfactorily solve the problem, and the author is aware of this when he indicates that six criteria were selected to provide a common ground for comparing effectiveness.

    “The author is also aware of the limitations of the comparisons made by Fry and Associates (1961) and has attempted to provide more accurate means for comparison.”

    • almadenmike says:

      On page 7 of the Oct. 22, 1964, Thresher (https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/66391/thr19641022.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y) is an article that announced “the Fondren Library automated checkout system will begin operation next week.

      “The system was scheduled to begin operation the first week of October, but was delayed by the late arrival of student cards. The cards, due to arrive the last week of August, were not received until the second week of September.

      “Mr. Fred Ruecking, library circulation head, explained that the late arrival of the cards was caused by ‘some damn idiot’ who directed the delivery of the student cards to the Air Freight Terminal in Atlanta, Georgia. The cards waited there for two weeks for a representative of the Rice library to pick them up.

      ” ‘Every day that the cards were late threw us a week behind in our work,’ said Mr. Ruecking.”

  4. Marie Brannon says:

    I worked at Fondren from 1969-1973, and I remember the machine Mark mentions; it sat next to the back door of the circulation desk, across from the room where we put books to be reshelved, and near the R.I.C.E. offices. If you kept walking through that area you would enter the large workroom where the librarians offices were.

  5. Richard A Schafer says:

    The system got some attention. IBM published a booklet entitled “Circulation control at Rice University, using the IBM 357 data collection system” in 1964. It was written by Fred Ruecking, who ran the library IT systems at the time. Woodson has 2 autographed copies. I’ve never seen it, but the catalog says both copies are missing a page. And someone named Howard Pasternak wrote a master’s thesis for the U. of Chicago in 1969 entitled “A COST ANALYSIS OF THE AUTOMATED CIRCULATION CONTROL SYSTEM AT THE RICE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY” that is also in Fondren.

  6. almadenmike says:

    Fred Ruecking is also featured in the Jan 8, 2013, Rice History Corner post: https://ricehistorycorner.com/2013/01/08/library-computation-project-c1960/

Leave a Reply