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Using an old card catalog for inventory

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    • #136631
      David C

      We use a card catalog to index our accession records. I am reconciling our index cards to what we have on display at multiple sites. An inventory has never been done in our 47 years of existence.

      Right now I am concentrating on books. We have individual index cards of each book for the Author, Title and Subject. Looking for a book in our card catalog can be problematic. Some index cards are missing or the book has not been found yet. Also, since we have two separate sites, some cards are misfiled with the wrong site. Our main building has about 1500 books. Our other site (a one-room schoolhouse) has about 400 books. I have recorded the Titles, Authors, and accession numbers from our schoolhouse.

      Should I

      A) Mix the Author, Title and Subject cards together (with a letter in the corner of each card to denote which site the book is at)?

      B) Group the Author, Title and Subject Cards separately (with a letter in the corner of each card to denote which site the book is at)?

      C) Group the cards by site and mix the Author, Title and Subject cards together for that site?

      D) Group the cards by site and then have separate groups for the Author, Title and Subject Cards?

      I’m thinking it might be best to put ALL the Author and Title cards together in one group, and put ALL the Subject cards together in another group. The reason is we also have several hundred pamphlets with subject cards. All the subject cards would be together in one place in our card catalog.

      If you use a card catalog with index cards, how do you categorize your cards and why.

      David Cranston, Curator
      Hadley-Lake Luzerne Historical Society
      52 Main St
      PO Box 275
      Lake Luzerne, NY 12846

    • #136643
      Samantha Skelton

      Hi David,

      I asked a few of our experts for input on your question, and Suzanne Quigley offered this helpful advice:

      Definitely option B, however, I would take it one step further and also have one more set of cards organized by location (option D). When things change location all you have to do is pull the card from the old location and put it in the new location – and you don’t have to repeatedly erase penciled in locations – or add new ones to a growing list. Of course that doesn’t help in the way of being able to track the location history. But that may not be the primary goal here.

      And yes, intermingle the cards for the pamplets and the books into the various groups, it assists browsing and locating materials by: an author of related material but different format; similar subject matter; similar title.

      Color coding the cards for the pamphlets would also help to quickly identify them as being a different format from the books.

      Nothing beats a database though.

      I hope this is helpful!

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