News Flash from the Past

By Jordan Serben, MacEwan University, Library and Information Technology program

AAAL has now made its print newsletters available online! The newsletter began in 1976 as a brief one-page document, titled “News Flash or First (I Hope of Many) Newsletter”. It never wavered from good humour: “The Data Centre will not bill for services until April, 1977, so we MAY get it free (but don’t hold your breath).” Tongue-and-cheek articles like this persisted throughout the newsletter’s history.

If you wander through past issues, there are harsh tales of late fee consequences. In the fall of 1983, in Gatineau, Quebec, the town council passed a bylaw to throw its residents in jail for a maximum of 60 days as punishment for overdue library books. Other stories describe disastrous events. At Keyano College, in the spring of 1984, during a performance of “Alladin and His Wonderful Lamp”, a mishap with the lamp torched the theatre scenery and the backstage experienced smoke and water damage. But, the real excitement was in the Learning Resource Centre where the new ENVOY 100 Electronic Mail network was being “hooked up”, putting the college at the doorstep of the digital age!

Technology was embraced wholeheartedly throughout the 90s as hobbyist microcomputers became PCs and computer labs became the norm. Nineteen-ninety was a busy year for barcoding collections and the installation of 3M security systems, which had library staff cause “patrons some embarrassment by not desensitizing material.” Olds College became an Internet-capable site in 1995, and the library purchased the agricultural database Agricola. Internet classes and Internet facilitators were leading topics across Alberta, while libraries were also faced with converting catalogue records to MARC in the mid-to-late 1990s. And, in the fall of 1999, Grant MacEwan College launched its virtual Ask a Reference Question, leading the way for chat reference.

Find these stories and more in the archives!

AAAL Newsletter Archives

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