Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Researching local history: from card indexes to online content

There has been provision for local studies in Sheffield for over 100 years.  The current Local Studies Library forms part of Sheffield Central Library, while the Archive service is housed in a separate building on Shoreham Street.  Each year, we build on the work of our predecessors to make the city’s collections more accessible.

In the days before computers, research was significantly harder.  If you wanted to find something, your first port of call would have been the card index drawers full of thousands of cards compiled by the Librarians.  Each book or document would have had at least three different index cards: one for author, one for topic and one for Dewey reference number, although in reality there were usually many more. 
One of our biggest ongoing tasks is the transfer all of this information into searchable online databases.  Researchers still have to use the old card indexes for some searches, but we are busy adding new things to our online catalogues weekly.

Sheffield Local Studies Library online catalogue: http://library.sheffield.gov.uk/uhtbin/webcat
Sheffield Archives online catalogue: http://www.calmview.eu/SheffieldArchives/CalmView/Default.aspx?

For more online content see our webpages which are updated weekly: https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/SCC-Home/libraries/archives-and-local-studies

Pictured: (top) Local history and archives department, Central Library, 1950s (Picture Sheffield: s06699); (bottom) index card showing the level of detail and methodical approach our predecessors took – however, spot the typographical errors!