book cards

Book cards as library mementos

A donated cabinet at our reuse warehouse came with a little surprise: book cards from the early 1960s!

For those who are more familiar with barcodes than book pockets, these book cards were used in libraries before online circulation systems to keep track of borrowed books. The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives blog published an interesting look at how the system worked, with images from a 1918 library supplies trade catalog.

I personally enjoy these little record keepers not just for nostalgia, but also for the sense of history that they lend to a particular book. The cards could stay in their book pockets until they filled up with names; for example, one of the cards here was in use at least from June 15, 1962, to November 15, 1993. As a kid I always enjoyed looking back to see who had enjoyed the book before me.

In any case, the cabinet these came in has already sold, but it was fun to see these vintage library supplies make an appearance again!

Interested in more book-related reuse?

Check our eBay store for all sorts of interesting vintage books, including cookbooks, mysteries, car repair, antique books, and more! Available for local pickup or shipping.

Visit our reuse warehouse for creative book storage options! We’ve got purpose-built bookshelves, of course, but don’t overlook china cabinets, kitchen cabinetry, and lumber for book storage ideas.

Every time you donate or shop at Community Forklift, you’re helping us lift up local communities through reuse.  We turn the construction waste stream into a resource stream for communities in the DC region – by keeping perfectly good items out of the landfill, preserving historical materials, providing low-cost building supplies, and creating local green jobs.