Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Catalog Card Drawers

There are some skills that are not taught in library school that were discussed recently on LM_net. Library school does not teach some of these skills because they not academic. Some require institution knowledge; some require knowledge of how things work.

One person said that food can ease a tense work situation, “when in doubt… eat” Since Purim (Feast of Lots) is coming soon this morning I baked hamentaschen. I made the cookie dough variety and filled them with two options -- pumpkin and chocolate/peanut butter. Here’s a picture to let you enjoy while I talk about a lost skill – removing the rod from a card catalog drawer.

A school librarian from a secondary school in British Columbia asked how to remove cards from a catalog drawer. Since this is a lost skill, I will attempt to explain. The short answer is, “It depends on the model.” Below are three kinds of drawers.

This is a metal drawer. They are not generally used for library public catalogs. The rod is screwed in with threads. To remove the rod, twist counter-clockwise and wiggle the rod out.

This is wooden drawer. The front and tray are made from wood. On the bottom there is a release. Gently use your finger to move the release and the rod will easily come out.

This is wooden front plastic drawer. The bottom is closed not like the open wooden drawer. There is no release button. To release the rod push up; wiggle out. The final drawer is empty to show how easy card removal can be.

The final drawer picture is empty to show how easy card removal can be. This drawer is ready for re-purposing. 

I don't have any pictures of drawers with release buttons on the front or inside the front of the drawer.  If you find one, just push in or push the release to the side and remove the rod.
If none of these methods work, then use a big hammer. 

As a last resort, the heavy equipment is waiting only a block away. 


rlorbert said...

funny post -- happy Purim!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Jennisen Lucas via e-mail.

I just want to thank you for the humor in your blog post. I really needed that laugh today (at the thought of using a hammer...). Thank you!!!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Jeanne Macomber via e-mail

Loved it! And thank you for the hamantashen. :-) - Jeanne

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Martha von Schilgen via e-mail

And I thought the hammer was just for the I-refuse-to-work-today laptops!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

Sent via e-mail from: Jaime Meadows

I had been on my first library job for about 2 weeks when I had to file cards in the old card catalog (shelf list drawer). When I tried to put the rod back in, I got it wrong and shot cards all over the room. About 2/3rds of the drawer played a different version of "52 card pick-up". The other ladies in the room were all laughing but were kind enough to never mention it again. One of them, Martha, did show me how to replace the rod without the mess. I remember that sinking feeling in my tum like it was yesterday. And it did take quite a while to get the cards back in order. SIGH!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Joanne Glasgow via e-mail.

Since I worked as a library assistant in both junior high and senior high schools, I was very familiar with these rods. About 10 years after I became a librarian (About 1990) my little brother shared that he and his friends figured out how to
remove the rods all on their own and to drive their librarian crazy had carefully put the drawers in the card catalog back in upside-down and then pulled the rods. I nearly killed him!

Joanne Glasgow

Of Life, Education, E-bay, Travel & Books said...

One of my jobs in college was filing in the card catalog. I so DO NOT miss filing "above the rod".

Bookloving Bubbe said...

Thanks, Daniel! You've made my day. (You mean mine isn't the only library on the planet that still has a card catalog????)

Happy Purim!!!!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Basya Karp via e-mail.

You mean my library isn't the only one the universe that still has a card catalog?

Thanks, Daniel. You've made my day.

Have a happy Purim!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

Someone reminded me about the card sorters needed to ready the cards before inserting into the catalog drawers. I will try to write about the correct way to use them as soon as I get some more pictures.

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From CM! Winters Palacio via e-mail:


Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Louise Leonard via email:
Todah Rabah! Although I know how to take the rods out of the catalog drawers, I'll take a couple platters of hamentashen. Yum!

From Vince Bruckert via email:


I like the heavy equipment suggestion best!

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Alab Toscano via email

I enjoyed that. It was really funny.

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Richard A. Van Holst via email.

Maybe you should call these Purim treats hammer-tashen? :-)

From Mary Tilley via email.

I really enjoyed your blog entry. Thank you for the virtual cookies --they fit my diet perfectly. Here is a story about rods in drawers.

As part of introduction to cataloging, new catalogers were taught to file cards. One young woman told me that the hardest part was getting the rod in and out of the drawer. Apparently, she would pull it all of the way out instead of just far enough to drop the card and so had to get the rod back through the front opening and then thread it through all the cards in the drawer. She told me that when she tried to explain what she was doing to her husband he told her it sound like proctology training. We really laughed at that one.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane

From Alan Pochi via email.

In my first professional position, when revising filing (i.e. removing
the new card flags and making the permanent addition), I learned to deal with all three of the types pictured, plus the one with the latch on top. Luckily, the buttons were distinctive, so that one didn't try in vain to unscrew/tug the wrong type.

Hanna said...

Reminds me of being a paraprofessional cataloger at the Brandeis U Goldfarb Library in the spring of 1970, during the anti-Vietnam war days of student unrest. While I was filing every day, students would sometimes ask me for help; two were later involved in an SDS-related bank robbery/murder, went underground and later did a lot of serious time. Your post made me wonder if anyone ever asked me how to remove the rods...did I inadvertently give anyone the info they needed to totally disrupt libraries? I certianly hope not!
Hanna Bandes Geshelin,

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Liz Edelglass via e-mail

Thanks for cheering my day -- and for the suggestion to fill next year's homemade hamentaschen with chocolate peanut butter!

(Do you use chocolate chips mixed with peanut butter?)

Answer: We put a glob of peanut butter and topped that with chocolate chips. They were not mixed until placed in the pocket.

Daniel Stuhlman said...

From John F. Myers via e-mail.

I didn't have much exposure to drawer rods until the current job. There is significant variation in the rod hold/release mechanisms here as new models were purchased as the catalog enlarged over the years. It can be quite tricky to figure out which model one is wrestling with! The squeeze models are represented in plastic and wooden drawers; there are some threaded; two styles of lever actions; and a detention on the bottom that one pushes up. I wish I had thought of the hammer solution on some occasions. :-)

ali naqvi said...

That is amazing..i really appreciating...Plastic cards!!!!