Remember when I posted that my library was selling several card catalog cabinets?

My friend (and librarian/archivist/photographer extraordinaire) @uncola bought one. I helped her haul it and move it into her apartment*. Here it is, in her home (with her cat, naturally).

*Card catalogs: damn heavy, even when you remove the drawers.

Brooklyn Museum – Cards from the Library Catalogs – Want some?

One of the results of projects to bring our Libraries and Archives into the digital world is that we have boxes of cards—mostly typewritten or computer generated—available for the taking and ready to be transformed into a second life. Since the Library Staff has developed an Online Catalog and systematically checked information on the physical catalog cards with the data now residing in the electronic catalog, we invite you to contact us if you wish to visit and take some of the cards and report back to show us what you created with them.

Shown above: “bookshelves” made of catalog cards.

The cards also reflect the current technology available at the time of their creation. Handwritten cards were created by the Library Staff until a typewriter became available; the typewriter was invented in 1873, but we do not have a fixed date for when one first began to be used by the Brooklyn Museum Library staff to generate cards for the catalogs. Despite this many of the cards continued to be annotated by hand since signs and symbols such as hieroglyphs could not be replicated on a typewriter.

Today we bid a fond farewell to the last of the KSL card catalogs. They are being decommissioned after decades of noble service to make room for more shelving in our Special Collections vaults. We are keeping some of the cards that still contain valuable information. Bon voyage, old friends!