Monday, March 09, 2009

Old Tech

Never mind the newest gizmos, your mp3 players, high-def, and mobile devices. Libraries are haunted by ghosts of technology past and technology that never really was. Here are some snippets of tech support I have had to give.

Exchange 1

Professor: This VHS tape is broken. The machine won't play it.

Me: Let me see what's going on.

Professor: Look. It won't even go into the machine.

Professor proceeds to try and force the VHS into the player.

Me: Turn the tape around.

Exchange 2

Student: Something's wrong with the VCR. Nothing's coming up onscreen, and there's no sound.

Me: Let me come see.

I check connections and find everything is hooked up right. I pop out the tape.

Me: You're at the end of the tape. You need to rewind it.

Exchange 3

Student: Hi, can I check out LD23?

Me: That's a laserdisc. Do you know what laserdiscs are?

Student: Yeah.

He even sounds a little offended by the question.

I bring out the laserdisc.

Me: Okay, here you go.

He takes it and looks at it for a bit.

Student: Okay, I don't know what a laserdisc is. Isn't there a DVD?

I've had this conversation quite a few times. Laserdiscs are a precursor to DVDs. They never caught on. Of course, we have hundreds of them. Pioneer reccently announced they won't be manufacturing laserdisc players anymore. They announced it only in Japan. The format was a little better received in Japan, but it seems odd that they didn't offer an English press release. We are planning to stock up because there are things that are on laserdisc but have not made it yet to DVD. It's annoying. But it is fun to blow the undergrads minds when I bring an LD out.



Anonymous Patti said...

I remember laserdiscs!! My dad bought a player thinking they would be the next big thing. I can't remember the last time we used it though.

9:03 PM, March 09, 2009  
Anonymous HoustonLibrarian said...

I used to be a university librarian. Every year we had to buy a new laserdisc player because some brainiac would try and play a record in one assuming it was the way to listen to records on computers.

And my favorite single quote from any patron *ever* "I know how computers work! I'm not stupid!!!" (said after inserting her library card into a disc drive . . .. )

10:18 AM, March 10, 2009  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

Patti, wow. I've never heard of anyone actually buying one except for cinephiles.

HoustonLibrarian, we have not had the record player mishap...yet, and thankfully, we don't have library cards or 3.5" disk drives. I'm sure there are lots of other ways to mess up equipment that I haven't seen...yet.

12:13 AM, March 11, 2009  
Blogger Barb said...

We had to buy more tape recorders since no one owns one anymore.We have to show some students how to put the cassette tape into the tape recorder.

We also kept an LP record (Footloose soundtrack) to show to our student workers.

10:37 AM, March 13, 2009  
Anonymous HoustonLibrarian said...

JUust b/c it vaguely fits the topic and I think you would be amused.

The Houston Public Library reference desk downtown has gotten several questions today about Battle Star Galactica's finale

Specifically, people want to know if human beings are really descended from alien-nonterestrial human-Cylons.

Words cannot express my . . . awe of the mentalities involved . .. .

8:29 PM, March 21, 2009  
Blogger Lisa said...

Wow, VL, good thing you know your way around (Get it? Put it in right way around? Am I reaching?) ancient technologies like VHS tapes!

And Houston, we're in countdown to say bye-bye to our floppy drives, so I will never again have to fish out a golf pencil or library card!

6:40 PM, March 25, 2009  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

Barb, we have cassette players too, the large clunky ones. We also have a large collection of tapes. They're all spoken word stuff and so very, very, very old, but the content exists in no other format.

HoustonLibrarian, don't let Tom Cruise near them.

Lisa, heh.

10:20 PM, March 25, 2009  
Blogger JamiSings said...

I remember one of my friends having a LD back in elementary school and bringing it to show us, telling us how much better it was then VHS.

Anyway, on the subject of things not on DVD yet, on a message board I visit there was an article from Business Week posted about Warner Bros and how they're willing to put movies of their's not on DVD onto it just for single orders. Maybe there's some stuff they made your library can use?

The Warner Archive Collection is making thousands of rarely-seen, archived studio films available to consumers via on-demand DVD purchases

By Stephen H. Wildstrom

Time Warner (TWX) is betting that a strategy that keeps out-of-print books from disappearing may also work for movies. Print-on-demand technology makes it feasible to produce a single copy of an otherwise out-of-print book. Time Warner's Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is adopting a similar approach to movies not currently available on DVD, with the release of the Warner Archive Collection.

The collection made its debut Mar. 23 with 150 of the thousands of decades-old titles that have not previously been available on DVD. If you order a copy of one for $19.95, Warner will burn it on demand and ship it to you, packaged in a shrink-wrapped DVD case that looks, more or less, like a conventional retail disc. Copies can also be downloaded in Windows Media format to play on PCs for $14.95.

10:22 AM, March 26, 2009  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

JamiSings, thanks for the tip! This could come in very handy.

9:33 PM, March 26, 2009  
Anonymous crsunlimited said...

Ah the old Laser Disks. I remember being 7 years old and my dad hitting the Rent 'A' Center buying up movies like crazy. R.A.C. was the only outlet for these in town, and they did a big business of them as they where the next step in home movies.

There are 2 styles of these as well. The EXTREAMLY old ones like my dad still has that are completely encased in a hard plastic sleeve and you insert, then pull it out of the player and leave the disk in the machine, and then there are the more modern ones that resembled the old '78s and where about as heavy as one. Think of something that looks like a cd/dvd, only the size of an LP (record for those who are to young to know what LP is).

What was neat about the LD's is that my dad had nice cover art, and paragraphs of movie info on the back. If you misplaced the case you had to find it, and there wasn't any of this disk in the wrong case stuff going on unless you had more then one player. lol.

3:43 PM, June 02, 2009  
Blogger H said...

We still have a computer with a 5 1/4 drive because we still have people bringing in their old 5 1/4 disks with their "priceless" genealogy on them -- so "priceless" you haven't attempted to access it in how long???

We also don't have 3.5 disk drives on our computers anymore (except for the one with the 5 1/4 drive) -- now we pass out the portable, plug-in ones.

4:21 PM, July 20, 2009  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

H, that is rather horrifying, I'm glad we don't have to support our patron's technological needs, but I figured we would pretty well support our collection's technological needs. I just found out today that we no longer have a cassette player in my area. A student came up with a cassette from our collection and asked to use a tape deck, and I walked over to the station to show him and it was no longer there. Instead there was a blue-ray player and flat screen monitor. I had to direct him to another part of Library X for assistance. I was sort of sad that we no longer had the tape deck, but we must march with the times.

10:51 PM, July 20, 2009  

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