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Library hand

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Before typewriters, and even for some time after in some libraries, catalog entries had to be handwritten. Melvil Dewey, when he wasn't working on his Decimal Classification or Simplified Spelling or his several other interests, tried to standardize the style of writing to be used on catalog cards and other library-related handwriting. Above is a sample.

At Google Books one can read Dewey's book "Library Notes", written in 1912, in which he not only explains why "writing machines" were not suitable for some purposes, but specifies the letter forms -- today we'd call it a "font" (page 282) -- but suggests the proper size of the letters and even the best pens (we'd say nibs) and "pen holders" (the things that the nibs were attached to so you could write with them), and ink stands. Steel pens were more suitable than gold ones or quills, he thought, and the ink stand he liked best was no longer being made.

Here are more samples of handwritten catalog cards, some in "hands" that Dewey would not have approved.

And patrons wonder why libraries now have our catalogs on computers!

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ailsaek
Jul. 31st, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
I think almost all of them had beautiful handwriting, though. Makes me ponder trying penmanship again.
dakiwiboid
Jul. 31st, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
I get frustrated
when I find that the info I want at a library's not online. Sigh. Fortunately, the Wonderful Archivist at the Missouri Historical Library pointed me at a ton of online resources that I can reach through their website. Unfortunately, someone exploring their website without having spoken to such an Archivist in person probably wouldn't find such resources, since the website menu sucks rocks through a sieve.

I wish their card catalog was online, because some of the notes on it are priceless.
mmegaera
Jul. 31st, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Penmanship in general was a much bigger deal in the days before typewriters, let alone computers. But Dui [g] was in a category all by himself in many ways.
carbonelle
Aug. 2nd, 2009 04:21 am (UTC)
I don't miss hand-typing catalog cards At-tall! But I don't think I would've minded hand-writing them (though I'm a poor "hand" at lettering!)

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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