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Two micro­fiche readers are available at Mossey Library. Wiki­media Commons

Anyone who has taken one of Pro­fessor of History Ken Calvert’s classes knows about his love of the overhead pro­jector.

Instead of the digital pro­jectors wired into the ceiling of each classroom, Calvert prefers a boxy con­traption illu­mi­nated by an incan­descent light bulb that looks like it belongs in a “Looney Toons” episode. But Calvert is proud to be a Luddite.

“The ‘old ‑fash­ioned’ overhead pro­jector is easy to use, rarely breaks down — although some­times it needs a new bulb —  it never needs to be restarted or to have an IT person help figure out how to work the thing,” he said.  “I think the overhead pro­jector has more smarts than the smart­board.”

Calvert is not alone in his affection for the tech­nologies of the past. Sophomore Jonah Davey typ­i­cally types the drafts for all of his papers on a type­writer. Davey said doing so helps him distill his thoughts and write more effi­ciently, in a way that neither hand­writing nor typing on a com­puter would allow.

“It’s a low-tech device that func­tions for me as an accel­erated form of hand­writing,” Davey said.

Even the college itself still adheres to the past. Although now rarely in use, Mossey library has two micro­fiche readers as well as a microfilm reader.

According to Public Service Librarian Linda Moore, the college is in the process of slowly phasing out micro­fiche.

For example, the college used to have a number of books in its micro­fiche cabinet, but once these were pur­chased online, the physical copies were dis­carded. Addi­tionally, the college has pur­chased a scanner that allows micro­fiche users to make indi­vidual copies of micro­films.

“If someone decides a microfilm is important, it becomes available online,” Moore said.

As new tech­nologies quickly overtake older ones, the library tends to accu­mulate mul­tiple copies of the same thing. Moore said this has hap­pened most notably with the New York Times. The college owns hard copies, micro­fiche ver­sions, and the online version of the NYT archives.

“It’s America’s paper, so to speak,” Moore said.

According to Moore, another problem with the con­stant onslaught of new tech­nology is the hard decision of whether to replace existing cat­alogs or create new ones.

This becomes most evident in the library’s tran­sition from VHS tapes to DVDs for the film col­lection. Some things in the VHS library are irre­placeable, and as the library tran­si­tions from DVDs to Blu-ray discs, the same is becoming true.

“Keeping up with the tech­nology as it evolves can be a real issue for the library,” Moore said.

Even more pressing, however, is the issue of when to finally let an old tech­nology go. For instance, the library no longer stocks vinyl records because it no longer has record players.

“One of the philoso­phies of the library is that if we are going to collect it, we need to have the equipment,” Moore said. “People were stealing record needles — which are expensive — so we never replaced them and got rid of our record player.”

Some tech­nologies, however, are so old that they never will leave. Moore pointed over to the table near the copy machines.

“Paper cutters are not cutting edge, so to speak,” Moore said.