We’ve come a long way, baby.

Thanks to Megan Brett, Research Database and Records Manager at the Montpelier Foundation, we are able share with you a piece of ephemera from UVa Library’s computing past: a pamphlet on “Computer Literature Search.”

“Why use a computer search? Consider the time it takes to search manually through the many issues of printed indexes. The computer searches these indexes in seconds; the search is faster, more comprehensive, and often more precise, as there are more subject access points and greater flexibility in combining terms in a computer search.”

The pamphlet continues with an offer to split evenly the costs of search with Library patrons — “based on computer connect-time and on the number and format of citations printed.” Check out a PDF of the pamphlet, here (1mb). It is coded “10-84.” Is this from 1984?

Please comment if you can shed light on the date of the pamphlet, or want to share memories of early digital and computer-assisted scholarship at UVa. We’d also be very happy — in the semester in which we’ve rolled out a new Virgo interface based on Project Blacklight (first prototyped here in the Scholars’ Lab!) — to see more ephemera from UVa Library’s long engagement with digital research.

Bethany directed the Scholars' Lab from 2007 to 2015, and is now Director of the Digital Library Federation at CLIR, the Council on Library and Information Resources. She remains affiliated with UVa as a Research Associate Professor of Digital Humanities in the English Department. Computing humanist/humane computationalist since 1996. Formerly director of the Scholars' Lab…


  1. What Joe has must be some of Paul Bergen’s old files.

    I know I left behind some inherited early Etext ephemera — from David to Mike to me… I can’t now remember who I foisted them onto.

  2. From an inherited file folder labeled “GeoStat Pre-History,” I’m currently perusing a July 1992 report entitled “Automated Mapping and Spatial Analysis: the Use of Geographic Information Systems in Teaching, Research, Management, and Public Service at the University of Virginia — A Cross-Discipline Effort,” leading to the creation of the “Alderman GIS Lab.”


Library Juice » Ephemera from UVa Library’s computing past