Musings From A Bookmammal

L is for LIBRARY NOSTALGIA–The April A-Z Challenge/Day 12


LWelcome to Day #12 of the April A to Z Challenge, where participants are challenged to create a post every day (except Sundays) corresponding to the appropriate letter of the alphabet. If you’d like to learn more, hit the badge on my sidebar.

I’ll be posting about bookish topics each day of the challenge. Here’s today’s post about some differences between the libraries of yesterday and today:



library nostalgia collageI’m a big fan of libraries–I think they’re one of the greatest inventions ever! My parents started me on the library habit when I was really young—my family didn’t have much money to purchase books when I was a kid, but we went to the library just about every week. Today I’m lucky to have a large public library system in my area, and I usually have at least 5 books checked out at a time—often more.

Libraries are so automated today—online searching and automated checkout procedures make it possible to take full advantage of many library services without ever interacting with another human. But I’m old enough to remember the days when that wasn’t the case—and sometimes I miss those times.

Who here remembers the “old school” wooden, boxy card catalogs that were yesterday’s version of Google? There were usually three sets of these–one to use when searching by title, one for authors, and one for searching by subject, and they took up a good amount of space.

You’d have to find the individual drawer for the part of the alphabet you needed–hopefully no one else was using the drawer that you wanted! Then you could remove the drawer, take it to a nearby table, and flip through the cards until you found what you needed. Next, you’d write down the call letters/numbers and then hunt for the book in the stacks! (Don’t forget to return the card catalog drawer first!) I can still remember filling up sheets of notebook paper with the call numbers of books I’d need for school research papers. I’ve bought a couple of these old individual drawers online recently and I use them for storage on my desk and in my bathroom. They bring back fond memories whenever I see them!

Library cards today have bar codes and look like credit cards—but I remember when they were little cardboard cards with your name typed on them (via an actual TYPEWRITER!). Each card also had a little metal plate attached with your library ID number. The card above looks just like my childhood library card, except mine was a pinkish-orange color rather than blue. I think that kids had one color, and adults had another.

Today I get a computer print-out that lists the date that my books are due, but back when an actual librarian checked out all the books, she (and it was always a she!) would stamp the date due on a slip pasted in the back of each book. I always thought it was fun to check that slip and see how many times a book had been borrowed. All of that is a mystery now!

OK–I feel about 1,000 years old right now! Help me out, people! Do you have any memories of libraries of the past?  Or are you someone who has never used an actual card catalog? Please share! 🙂

(You can read more of my thoughts about libraries in this post, and my thoughts about kids and libraries here.)

Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

7 thoughts on “L is for LIBRARY NOSTALGIA–The April A-Z Challenge/Day 12

  1. I totally remember those days and I too used to love checking out the slip at the back of the book 🙂 At my high school library when I started in year 7, they weren’t on computer systems yet (this was back in 2000) and they’d write down each book a student borrowed on a card with their name on it, that was filed away in this little container. I pity that librarian now when I think about how I’d borrow out 30 books at a time…!
    Great post, thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  2. I DO miss card catalogs. I haven’t been to a library in so long – but a local library is having a sale this weekend so maybe I’ll take the trip! Nice post. I’m loving your A-Z thing!

  3. I remember having the librarian stamp the due date in the back of the book. She’d stamp it down so hard. Then I’d go home and pretend to play librarian and pretend stamp all my books.
    I loved the library. When the librarians would gather us kids for a book reading then always used character voices while reading and I was totally enthralled. They were so animated. Such magic!

    • I used to LOVE playing library! I even wanted to be a librarian until I figured out that they didn’t get to just sit around and read library books all day. 🙂

  4. My library card was one of the few things I never lost as a child, it too was a pinky orange colour. Fond memories 🙂

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