Life before Google: The Chicago Public Library Information Service, 1993

How would you settle a bet over how many career triples Pete Rose had? Or what’s the primary export of Peru? Where would you go to find the answer? These days, we’d just turn to the internet, where almost all of recorded human knowledge is collected and readily available at our fingertips. The prevalence of things like iPhones and Google have drastically changed our ability to find and research even the most trivial of topics, so it’s almost astonishing to think that just twenty years ago, you would have had to call the library.

In 1993, Doug Sawyer and Wendy Miller went to the Harold Washington Library to document the Chicago Public Library Information Service for a segment for Chicago Slices. The footage never made it to air, and this unique service soon faded into obscurity as internet search engines quickly outpaced its usefulness. Thankfully, it hasn’t been completely forgotten. The raw tape survived and has now been digitized through the support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and supporters like you. So take a moment and look back into a past nearly forgotten, and reflect on just how much change can happen in 20 short years.

Watch the full video inside Harold Washington Library at Media Burn.

 

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