This is card sorter. Some people called it a “sorting stick” but the suppliers call it a “card sorter.” Today it costs about $44.00 new. This well used item had to be dug out of storage. The sorter helps divide the task into smaller pieces and makes the process more organized than sorting with bare hands. It measures about 23” x 3.5” (58 x 9 cm)
There are 24 plastic coated “leaves” or “flaps” ; one for each letter of the alphabet except the letters “XYZ” which are combined. Each "leaf" is about 4" tall, and is also has the numbers 0 – 9 for numeric sorting and 000-900 for Dewey numbers. It also has the words “fiction,” “travel,” and ”biography” as you can see for those sorting options. The top, or leading edge, of each leaf is rounded and very smooth to prevent cards "catching."
To operate you take standard catalog cards one at a time and slide the cards up the stick until you are just past the correct slot (let's say slot "L") and then move back down, catching the card under the lip, and releasing the card as it hits the bottom of the slot.
The pictures below show this action.
When you sort quickly, the card sliding over each leaf end sounds like a card pinned to your bike spokes...brrrrp, brrrrrp, brrrrrp. This process is so easy that I was able to teach my son to alphabetize card when he was in first grade. For the rough sort all he needed to know was the first letter of the card needed to match the letter on the sorter. He was able to quickly do the *initial* alpha sort. When all the slots are filled, empty them. Use rubber bands or put the cards into piles to keep them together for further sorting.
Now is the time you need to refresh your knowledge of files rules. Take out your copy of ALA Rules.
Take each deck of cards and refine the sort using the second letter or the whole first word on the card. Repeat until the cards are in exact order to make your time at the drawers more efficient. Yes, it is actually more efficient to spend the time sorting than wasting time at the drawers.
If sorting shelf list cards in Dewey sort using the numbers. Do the 0-9 sort, then sort all the 100s, 110s, 120, etc. If using Library of Congress Classification, use the letters as before. Repeat ad nauseum.
It's 10x faster to do it, versus telling you *how* to do it.
Some people hated filing; others loved it; most thought it was just a tedious, necessary task to help the patrons and librarians and find items.
After you finish the task you deserve some sweets. Enjoy some chocolate.