gilest.org

A modern library, 1983
computerisation at South Bank Poly library

poly

In 1983, my stepdad Dennis Hawes was head librarian at South Bank Polytechnic in London. He was in charge of one of the earliest large-scale library computer systems installed in the UK. He and his colleagues even wrote a book about it. Dennis died in 2007, and we still miss him and think about him often.

Anyway. Last year my mum was clearing out some cupboards, and found a stash of slides that Dennis took. He and his sister were keen film photographers. I took the stash home with me in a plastic carrier bag, and paid to get the best pictures scanned.

Some of them documented the library computerisation project. And they’re amazing.

office

room

search

mainmenu

shelves

studying

tanktop

Dennis took screenshots by photographing the screen. These systems look incredibly ancient by modern standards, but then I stop and think for a bit, and realise I was still using software that looked like this a decade later, when I went to university in the early 1990s.

terminal

terminal2

terminals

terminals2

whichcomputer

The fabulous terminals with green-on-black VDUs (they were VDUs in those days, not monitors), mounted on shiny chrome columns. The wood / brick / plastic 70s/80s aesthetic. The huge clicky-clacky keyboards. The analogue phones. The jumpers and tank tops.

Lovely.


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28 Jul 2018