Thursday, April 2, 2015

Library Bureau SoleMakers

I took this photo of a card catalogue for sale in an Ottawa thrift store.  Beautiful piece of office furniture!  It was made by Library Bureau SoleMakers and evidently sold through a Boston "office outfitter."  At $500, though, too rich for my blood.

The Library Bureau was founded by Melvil Dewey, the man better known for the Dewey Decimal Classification System.  He published his system in 1876, the same year that he founded a company  to sell library supplies. In 1879 this became the Readers and Writers Economy Company.  The name "Library Bureau" was adopted in 1881.  It 1890, it introduced vertical filing. By 1900, the company boasted a huge catalogue, benefitting from the explosion of Carnegie Libraries that were opening.  Its offerings were sold both in the U.S. and abroad. In the U.S., it set up schools in major cities to teach filing to clerical workers.  In 1927, it was acquired by the newly formed Remington Rand holding company.  The name "Library Bureau" continued as a brand into the 1950's.  In 1976, the Library Bureau division was purchased by a former manager, who then created Midwest Library Systems.  Another company, Library Bureau Steel, also lays claim to the company heritage.

For more information on the company and images of some of its products, visit The Library History Buff.

Remington Rand, of course, went on to create the Univac line of mainframe computers.

Co-incidentally, about a week after I photographed this cabinet, I picked up this book in a Belleville thrift shop:  

Here's what this Dewey-eyed librarian had to say about card catalogs:

Other observations about libraries from the day:

Finally, what a library needed by way of reference material, and what Google does so much better today:

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