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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Card Catalogue

I used card catalogue in 1980's when I started my librarianship journey, at Cataloguing Dept, Institute of Education Library in Aug 1982.

My first task was checking the filing of card catalogue.  Title/Author entries were interfilded, subject heading is on its own.  Call number card and shelf list were the two that I used to confuse myself. 

Checking of filing manually was time consuming and taxing to the eyes.  I still remembered that I had a hard time looking at the A to Z filing and trying to following the filing rules of Word-by-Word (not letter-by-letter).

Standing at the card catalogue for two hours in one run, doing correction and explaining to support staff on how filing rules should be applied was not an easy task for a new cataloguer like me.

One of the day in the first month, I finished work at 5 pm and was exhausted, after heading home and have dinner, I rested on bed at 7pm, without shower.

I woke up at 7 am the next morning and realised that I slept for 12 hours.  I was late for work and have to rush for public transport and managed to report to IE library at 8.30am. I did not have breakfast that day and my mind was spinning before morning tea break.


The Author/Title, Subject, Call Number and Shelf List card catalogue in IE Library then were made in metal.  They were all in gray colour.

There were some wooden card catalogue used for specially collection, like Thesis and IE publications etc... 

Nowaday, it is hard to find any library with the wooden catalogue cabinets in Singapore.

If your library do have a sample  of card catalogue and the catalogue cabinets, do keep it and it will be your institution's heritage collection.

If you have photograph of the old catalogue cabinet, and would like to let me share through this blog, just email me:


Here is what I found in Wikepidia:

Library catalog
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The card catalog at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library is hardly used, but adds to the austere atmosphere.

Another view of the SML card catalog
A library catalog (or library catalogue) is a register of all bibliographic items found in a library or group of libraries, such as a network of libraries at several locations. A bibliographic item can be any information entity (e.g., books, computer files, graphics, realia, cartographic materials, etc.) that is considered library material (e.g., a single novel in an anthology), or a group of library materials (e.g., a trilogy), or linked from the catalog (e.g., a webpage) as far as it is relevant to the catalog and to the users (patrons) of the library.


Source of information:

Originally posted on 5 April 2012, revised and updated on 6 Jan 2015.

Dexterine Ho Soo Miang

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