Show a card catalog to library lovers under the age of 30 and they might not even know what they’re looking at. A grid of small drawers set into a deep wooden box. What could it be for? Storing tools? Medicine? Jewelry? Craft supplies? They’d never guess that it once held an entire world of knowledge and the tools to explore it.
Most libraries gave up their card catalogs sometime in the late ’80s, replacing them with computerized catalogs. Computers take up a lot less space than giant wooden drawers. This left room in libraries for more books, chairs, table, and event spaces.
But some card catalogs still remain. One great example is at the Library of Congress. Though no new cards have been added since 1980, the huge, wooden catalogs, filled with records of books, are still used by librarians and researchers. Even more card catalogs, a full city block long, are used by catalogers in the basement of the Library of Congress.
In the new book, The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures, the Library of Congress card catalog is open to anyone. Its origins and history are detailed, with an introduction by Peter Devereaux, Writer-Editor at the Library of Congress Publishing Office and a forward by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
But the real draw of the book is its photographs. More than two hundred full-color pictures show an awe-inspiring selection of rarely seen original cards, first editions book covers, and archival photos from the library’s collection.
Find The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures in the library catalog.