We had to fight tooth and nail to save the Main Card Catalogs (with the Library's earliest and most valuable recorded book collection upon them), from being "pulped" - destroyed - when the Main Reading Room was closed for "renovations" on December 9, 1987. This was the decision of the Architect of the Capitol, who now has legal jurisdiction over the Library of Congress due to "renovations." We librarians, in light of the historic value to this Card Catalog, took it to our Union, The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, who fought it and won by threatening to take them to court. This irreplaceable Card Catalog was thus saved in a matter of seconds (at the last minute.) That is the only way we were able to prevail. There is no other recourse.
The Retrospective Catalog was put on Premarc Computer. But it is filled with gross errors. It comprises 15th century to 1968 books. However, none of the 15th century books are on this Premarc
catalog, which doesn't include everything. They took the lowest bidder for the transfer of Card Catalogs to Computer Tape. I would describe them as the type of little old ladies from Scotland. This Premark Computer Catalog is rubbish. We librarians can't decipher it at all. They have the wrong information on the wrong field e.g. the Author field in the Title Field, the Call Number field in the Pagination field, etc. It would take fifteen years and millions and millions of dollars to recreate the Computer Catalog. Typical errors on this Computer Catalog are: the
creation of records for books that don't exist; and many on the shelf that don't exist in the Premarc Computer Catalog.
The new Librarian of Congress was installed October 15, 1987. He brought in his own people. There was a general exodus from the Library of Congress after he came in. They got rid of the Director of Personnel. The Chief of the Exhibits Office was reassigned to another post, in September 1988. Lewis Mortimer, Director of Personnel was reassigned to Federal Research. Many chiefs left or retired. There are 12-15 Divisions at the Library with missing chiefs to include the chiefs of the European Division; the Rare Book Division; the Asian Division; Federal Research Division (Classified for Military and State Department Documentation), which is located in the Navy Yard. When the heads of departments and directors get reassigned, you don't hear about them anymore.
Over 4 billion dollars worth of books are in these two Rare Book Card Catalogs you see here. We librarians are adamant that we couldn't exist without a card catalog. When our Rare Book Reading Room was closed in 1985, we were promised that it would reopen six months later. We are still waiting.* They keep promising that when the renovations are over, it will be much better. But I've seen the plans, and it will be worse. There will be no assigned office for the Chief of the Rare Book Division. I strongly objected to that. There will be no contact with Reference Collections; no contact with readers; and no BOOKS. No librarian was consulted. This is the sole design of the Architect of the Capitol, George M. White. We librarians can't answer Reference questions without a Card Catalog.
These Rare Books are one of a kind in the world, comprising books of such caliber and importance tot he original records of the formation of the United States of America: the writings of our Founding Fathers; Thomas Jefferson wrote in the margins of some of the manuscripts; there are manuscript notes; meticulously preserved records on previous ownership; fine binds; artists' information, etc. This cannot be included on the Computer Catalog. This collection also comprises some of the original writings of the Reformers, and includes invaluable collections acquired over many, long years. Among the valuable collections in this Rare Book Reading Room are the Toner, Russian Imperial, Early American Children's Books, American Imprints, the Houdini and Lessing Rosenwald Collections, and many others.
I think they are eliminating the Rare Book Library. They'll just have a Librarian.**
When the librarians objected to the new plan for the Rare Book Reading Room, we were told: "Why don't you just move the furniture around." But it's bolted to the floor. I've been here 13 years. This kind of thing I can't put up with. I don't intend to be around when they reopen the Rare Book Reading Room. I've had other job offers.
I was punished and passed over for promotion and didn't receive salary increases. If you stand up for anything, you're a troublemaker and you are branded. No matter what you do, you're sabotaged. All projects and work which you do is set aside. You're held back while other people who agree with the changes are promoted, and get salary increases, honors and service awards.