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The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary…
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The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures

by Library of Congress, Carla Hayden

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
I borrowed this book hoping for a in-depth story of the card catalog. It wasn't in the text, but in the pictures. The text was a basic introduction of the catalog, but the true amazement was in the images of the cards from the LC's catalog for iconic first editions.

A very enjoyable book. More than a coffeetable book, but not overwhelming in the details. ( )
  kevl42 | Nov 16, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have admittedly been sitting on this book for several months, simply because it is so beautiful. Lots of photos of beautiful old card catalogues. For anyone who grew up visiting old-school libraries, this book is a treat. It is the perfect gift for your favorite librarian or bibliophile. ( )
  quilted_kat | Nov 15, 2017 |
Library patrons from earlier centuries would have regarded the card catalog as a marvelous invention. Younger readers who come across The Card Catalog today may be amused by this quaint and somewhat abstruse fixture of “pre-historic” libraries. The thought of having to actually go to the library and manually search through file drawers of alphabetized 3 x 5 cards will strike them as a laughably inefficient, time-wasting convention.

Indeed it was by modern standards. Older readers, on the other hand, may recall the forerunner of today’s digital catalog with a sense of nostalgia and possibly even affection.

The Card Catalog is a short history of the systems that have been used to keep track of the contents of libraries. The narrative describes, step by step, the developments that led from the use of clay tablets to record information around 2000 B. C. to our present system.

At 213 pages The Card Catalog doesn't require a significant investment of time; a rainy afternoon will suffice. The content is organized into five chapters. Each begins with a few pages describing significant advances in cataloging methods and the shortcomings of that method that motivated the continued search for a better system. The treatment is brief enough that what many might perceive as a rather esoteric topic doesn't become boring.

Following the brief introduction each chapter includes illustrative reproductions of artifacts of the system. In the eighteenth century, for example, playing cards were used and examples depicting works by Aristotle, Homer, and Shakespeare are reproduced. Moby Dick, Little Women, and Stories of Jesse James and Buffalo Bill are included to illustrate the early twentieth century. Readers will delight at the selection of popular works and revered classics represented in the volume.

The book also contains photographs of early library facilities, cabinetry used to store cards, and individuals who were instrumental in the development of cataloging systems.

One disappointing aspect is the poor quality of many of the reproductions. I suppose the authors were striving for authenticity but I doubt The Card Catalog was written for historians. Including one or two unenhanced illustrations would have sufficed to give interested readers an understanding of the stage of preservation. Retouching the remaining entries to increase their legibility would have placed less strain on my aging eyes. ( )
  Tatoosh | Nov 1, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Wonderful eye candy for any bibliophile. While this book does go into explicit detail about the history of the card catalog -- both its rise and fall, the real treasure here are the photos throughout the book. It's filled with images of vintage book covers and lots of actual card catalog cards, as well as historical figures & drawings. It's a trip down memory lane for us older folks and a perfect book to read and browse through in a comfy chair with a blanket and cup of coffee, tea, or glass of wine. A feel-good book in the non-traditional sense. ( )
  indygo88 | Sep 17, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Well, here's a book that made me feel old. Knowing that most people under the age of 30 have never used a card catalog makes me sad for some reason. It's not the world's most glamorous or sophisticated technology, but this book highlights its charm quite vividly. I was still using card catalogs at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center in Austin as recently as 1995, and I remember how thrilling it was to find their provenance catalog and the discoveries that led to. I catalog my own library with the online database of LibraryThing, although as a teenager I did build a card catalog to manage my then-growing considerable comic book collection.

This materially-beautiful volume The Card Catalog supplies a fairly full history of the Library of Congress itself (at least for its first century or so), in support of its more particular study of the library's card catalog, and the library's eventual mission to support cataloging at local libraries across the US. As the text explains, the Library of Congress was actually one of the last major collections in the US to adopt the card cataloging system, but when they did so, it transformed library cataloging nationwide.

I was fascinated by trivia such as the French origin of library catalog cards in the repurposing of playing cards, and the features of the "library hand" in which American catalogers were trained for creating cards in manuscript. I was also gratified to find out that the physical card catalog of the Library of Congress, while retired, has been retained. As explained and amply demonstrated in this book, there is valuable information in the cards that did not make it into the MARC records created by a private vendor from the card catalog in the 1980s. The visible emendations to a card show change in the status of a given book (promotion from second to "official" copy, for example), details of changes between editions, and developments in metadata such as the addition of an author's date of death.

There are many full color reproductions from catalogs that preceded the card catalog, and over half of the book consists of pictures of cards from the catalog, accompanied by photos of the actual books (or other media objects) and often portraits of the authors. The fact that The Card Catalog is thus itself a secondary product of the catalogers who worked in the Library of Congress is evidently why writer and editor Peter Devereaux gave the book's byline to the institution itself, crediting on the cover Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden with the foreword, and effacing his own role--showing it only in his subscription to the introduction.

I enjoyed reading this book far more than I expected to. I recommend it to both the curious and the nostalgic, and I'm glad that it exists to help document this increasingly ghostly element of information science. ( )
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Sep 5, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
This book about card catalogues, written and published in cooperation with the Library of Congress, is beautifully produced, intelligently written and lavishly illustrated. ... “The Card Catalog” is many things: a lucid overview of the history of bibliographic practices, a paean to the Library of Congress, a memento of the cherished card catalogues of yore and an illustrated collection of bookish trivia.
 

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Hayden, Carlamain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
The Library of Congress brings booklovers an enriching tribute to the power of the written word and to the history of our most beloved books. Featuring more than 200 full-color images of original catalog cards, first edition book covers, and photographs from the library's magnificent archives, this collection is a visual celebration of the rarely seen treasures in one of the world's most famous libraries and the brilliant catalog system that has kept it organized for hundreds of years. Packed with engaging facts on literary classics—from Ulysses to The Cat in the Hat to Shakespeare's First Folio to The Catcher in the Rye—this package is an ode to the enduring magic and importance of books.
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The Library of Congress brings booklovers an enriching tribute to the power of the written word and to the history of our most beloved books. Featuring more than 200 full-color images of original catalog cards, first edition book covers, and photographs from the library's magnificent archives, this collection is a visual celebration of the rarely seen treasures in one of the world's most famous libraries and the brilliant catalog system that has kept it organized for hundreds of years. Packed with engaging facts on literary classics--from Ulysses to The Cat in the Hat to Shakespeare's First Folio to The Catcher in the Rye--this package is an ode to the enduring magic and importance of books.… (more)

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