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Library of Congress Card Catalog Files

January 30, 2017


"For decades, elegant card catalogs occupied a central spot in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room. Before computerization, they were as central to the research process as a search engine in the present day. The last old card catalog was deemed obsolete the 1980s and pushed down into the basement, where it remains to this day."

The history of the card catalog begins in Paris during the time of the French Revolution and ends in Dublin, Ohio in the 1970s. The purpose of the card in bibliographic cataloging has not changed during the years as much as the format of the card. The most beautiful cards are those that were handwritten by trained librarians. Handwritten cards were replaced first by typewritten cards, then purchased cards, then online catalogs. Today there are few libraries that still use card catalogs and many young library users do not know what a card catalog was or what it evenlooked like.

Via Atlas Obscura

 




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