Old school librarians didn’t need Google.

My predecessors, who worked here in the days before the internet,  were avid collectors of clippings and filers of facts. Anything that they thought would be useful was either copied down or pasted onto an index card and filed away for the ages – or in this case, until I got my hands on it.  

Somehow (it’s a long story) I ended up keeping the “death” section of our old quotation files. Here are a few examples, for your amusement.  

This is the oldest card in my collection, from January 1, 1922.

One of the newest cards, from February 22, 1965. It's typewritten, too! We still keep a few typewriters in the library, just in case.

You might note that the 1965 card refers to the “Mounted Poetry Collection.” Yes, our librarians typed or copied oft-requested poems and mounted them on sheets of cardboard that were lovingly crammed into filing cabinets. I used the collection myself, back in the day – I started working here in 1999 (when the internet was not so useful), so we still dug into the quotation and poetry files fairly often.  

A nice handwriting sample from 1931. Note the double underline under the author's last name - that's the way librarians roll.

Another handwriting sample, date unknown, but probably from the 30s or 40s. We still have hymnals by this author, but not this particular book. Alas.

They’re still legible, because these long-retired librarians were taught to write in Library Hand. I’m so glad that I’m allowed to type nearly everything, as good old Melvil Dewey would find my handwriting deeply offensive.  

Lousy poem, but a nice card. And it mentions Pittsburgh!

This last card is a wonderful combination of handwriting and clipping, plus it features a special “NEW YORK TIMES” stamp. And if you really really want to read more of that lousy poetry, my excellent coworker Don suggests checking out The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll – though I can tell you by looking at the circulation statistics that it’s not very popular. Oh, well. 

There you have it, a little more library history preserved for the ages.  

– Amy, who keeps writing about things other than Film & Audio

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Old school librarians didn’t need Google.

  1. Cool! I really enjoyed looking at these…one of my first jobs in life was a staff-member at a very large library. One of my favorite things was to sneak off up to the attic which was hot and dark, but was where a bazillion very old yellow newspapers were stored, waiting for someone like me to organize them. I loved it. This post brought back those memories. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Richard

    This from two that I have sitting on a shelf in my office.

    Babylon
    Hammurabi, king of Babylon.
    Oldest code of laws in the world; the code of laws promulgated by Hammurabi, king of Babylon, B.C. 2285-2242.

    Babylon
    Hammurabai, king of Babylon.
    Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon about 2250 B.C.; autographed text, transliteration, translation, glossary….

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