In 1977, Dumbarton’s first full year of operation, Henrico Library patrons checked out books and magazines, of course — and also LP records, audio cassette tapes, and even art prints! A constant theme in public library services is keeping up with changing technologies. Accordingly, in 1978, Henrico Libraries began circulating video tapes; and in 1983 Apple II computers were installed for public use. Patrons paid $1.00 for every 12 minutes of computer time.
“The computer is being used steadily” at Dumbarton, said Mrs. Temple. “There are a lot more knowledgeable people out there than we expected. It’s not at all true that the school kids are the only ones who know how to use the computers.”*
We adopted other emerging technologies, seemingly more rapidly, throughout the next thirty years. Henrico County Libraries never used a card catalog; the first catalog was a list of titles in a set of three bound, printed lists. A contemporary article touted this seemingly complicated book catalog as modern — since a computer generated the lists — and as a space-saver, taking up less room than drawers and drawers of card catalog files. This bound catalog was replaced by a catalog on microfilm in 1983. We acquired an early computer catalog system in 1985, and the current “integrated library system,” including online catalog, dates to 1999. Henrico Library’s first website was launched in fiscal year 1996-97. The end of the 1990s saw us begin to offer Microsoft Office software as well as Internet access: this landmark shows up in the fiscal year 1998-99 annual report.
Returning to the subject of items patrons checked out, Henrico Libraries began circulating CDs in the late 1980s, and DVD movies in fiscal year 2003-04. The annual report noted, “In the first year of this shift to digital format, the library’s collection of DVD’s swelled to more than 2,500 titles, including numerous titles produced in-house by Public Relations & Media Services.”** Today, Henrico Libraries own over 30,000 DVDs. In 2011, we added downloadable ebooks for library members to read on their smart phones, tablets, etc. This collection replaced a previous collection of electronic books that could be read only on a personal computer. Our commitment to keeping up with the technologies library members use remains a cornerstone of our service.
*“New Tools Joining Books at Libraries” Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 31, 1983
**Henrico County Annual Report, 2003-2004
Full bibliography for this series, here.