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The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures (2017)

av Library of Congress, Peter Devereaux (Redaktör)

Andra författare: Carla Hayden (Förord)

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
4432440,940 (4.12)26
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.… (mer)

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Visa 1-5 av 23 (nästa | visa alla)
The Card Catalog Is a brief history of, you guessed it, the card catalog.

And yet, it's so much more than that. It's the story of humanity's efforts through the ages to compile, preserve, and organize our own history. Since the dawn of written language, humans have sought to create records of themselves and their doings. Heck, even before written language, we were compelled to leave behind some creative record of ourselves (looking at you, Paleolithic cave paintings). The most interesting part, in my opinion, is how little we've changed in that regard. Just look at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, any kind of contemporary platform that provides a means for us to put ourselves out there and tell the world "hey, I'm here, I exist" (which is probably all that those cave paintings were meant to do, basically a thousands of years old selfie). I mean, can we all just take a moment to appreciate how incredible that is? We like to think ourselves so advanced compared to ancient humans, but we seem to have more in common than we realize.

But I digress.

First, a little background. I didn't realize until after I'd finished this book that I had actually requested it from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program some time ago. It's a shame I didn't win it then because I loved it! The design, the content, the subject matter -- this is a book that I want to own eventually.

This is not a comprehensive history by any means. There are only around 50 or so pages of actual text, providing a cursory introduction to the formation and development of modern cataloging systems. The rest of the book consists of photographs of the original cards, the item to which the card refers, and the various facilities and furniture that once housed these catalogs, as well as photos of the individuals who pioneered these methods. I've seen others describe the written portions as dense, dry, or textbook-ish, but I didn't find it to be any of those. To me, it was very thorough and engaging, offering just enough factual narrative without overdoing or underdoing it. It's a perfect introduction to this rather niche topic, whether you're an avid library fanatic like I am, or a curious casual just looking to learn something new.

I do have a few criticisms, the first of which is the size of the photos themselves. The example cards are roughly to scale so they are very easy to read, but we only ever get to see one side and they often refer to a continuation on the reverse side of the card. They're also centered on the page surrounded by empty space, so there would have been plenty of room to show both sides.
I was most disappointed at how tiny the photos of the actual items were, sometimes only an inch or two tall (as with the examples from the Audobon Birds of America, which is stunningly illustrated). Granted, if the book were any larger, it would be much thinner, but it was hard to appreciate the rare beauty and quality of these books when I can barely make out the details. I was also a bit disappointed by the lack of explanation with the majority of items selected, beyond the title and creator. Some were obvious classics (like first editions of Ulysses or Moby Dick) or simply lovely as a physical object (I NEED that copy of Sleepy Hollow in my life), but there's no narrative to any of these selections -- they seem to have been chosen at random and some, while interesting, are fairly obscure. Sure, I can look them up online to learn more, but I would have preferred having some more details within the book itself, just a few lines about why that particular item is being showcased.

As a physical object, this book was a delight. In lieu of a dustjacket, it sports a striking belly band reproducing the original card for Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Inside the cover is a pocket with removable due date card. Each chapter begins with a title page featuring some kind of Library of Congress-related art or photograph, with the title inside a catalog card-shaped text box. And throughout the book are numerous other spreads of art, photos, card/document reproductions, all very tastefully and lavishly arranged. In short, this book was simply fun to explore. I think it would make a wonderful coffee table book or display piece for a guest to flip through to pass some time.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and I think it's a perfect starting point for anyone who might be interested in learning more about this or any other aspect of library history. Both the length and the formatting make the subject widely accessible and engaging. If you're looking for a more in-depth treatment, however, this will probably not be useful. It's clearly not written with historians or any kind of scholarship in mind.

A favorite quote:
The card catalog lives on as both a nostalgic relic that continues to elicit positive feelings about libraries and books and as a vital resource to researchers and catalogers at the Library of Congress. [...]
In the Library of Congress Main Reading Room the surviving rows of drawers stand as a tangible vestige of how important the collections are,
but also as a reminder that change is both imminent and inescapable.


(Library of Congress, The Card Catalog) ( )
  2below | Mar 11, 2020 |
The text of this book is a smidgen of book history, a dash of Library of Congress history, with a solid helping of (American) cataloguing history but the real focus here is the images of works and cards from the LoC card catalogue. A delight to flip through for library and book nerds. As a library professional, I also enjoyed the historical photos of some of the work spaces in ye olden days. Beautiful and a deceptively fast read, I definitely recommend it if it strikes your fancy. ( )
  MickyFine | Jan 22, 2019 |
This gorgeous book is perfect as a gift for a librarian or any bibliophile. Full color images provide a visual history of the Library of Congress by exploring the miscellanea of the library. Windows are opened not only into the library itself, but also the history of librarianship and cataloging. Combining informative text, beautiful images of items from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, and handwritten cataloging cards to MARC records, this volume covers all the bases. While full of detailed facts, it is never dull as marginalia and short tidbits of library history keep you fascinated. Definite eye candy for those interested in books, libraries, and information storage history.
  ktoonen | Nov 26, 2018 |
This gives a brief history of the card catalog and the Library of Congress. The text reads like a high school text book, but the pictures are great. It was interesting to see some of the rare books and learn what was contained within the Library. ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
This book is essentially an essay about the history and importance of the card catalog to organizing and improving libraries of all kinds, but especially the Library of Congress. It was interesting, but there was nothing surprising about the information to someone like me who has used them in the past. Of course, today the information is on computer data bases, but what if someone or something permanently pulls the plug. Then they'll be back, but typed on old manual typewriters or handwritten once again. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Jul 14, 2018 |
Visa 1-5 av 23 (nästa | visa alla)
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.
 

» Lägg till fler författare (5 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Library of Congressprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Devereaux, PeterRedaktörhuvudförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Hayden, CarlaFörordmedförfattarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Johnson, BrookeFormgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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The origin of the card catalog goes back to the cradle of civilization nestled in the fertile ground between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
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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.

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