Catablogging@FPL: Rules for Library Hand

In this fast-paced day and age of getting materials onto the shelves as soon as possible, it may come as a surprise to many that there was a time when such library work not only took great time and effort; but took patience, perseverance, and practice on the part of the catalogers.

Because of a project made possible by the people of Falmouth through the Community Preservation Fund, we had the pleasure of cataloging a collection of the Library’s historical documents.

When the beautifully bound collection arrived, we were charmed by a document entitled, “Rules for Library Hand.” It reminds us that while the aim of our work is ultimately same, the execution is quite different.  Consider, for example, some of the rules that a staff member once wrote out by hand in an effort to learn the proper way to produce handwritten catalog cards:

1. Hold your pen between the first and second fingers.

2. Be careful to make all writing uniform in size, slant, blackness of line, spacing, and form of letters.

3. See that each letter stands upon the line.

4. Be careful to make no unnecessary lines and avoid flourishes.

5. Be careful to cross the t’s squarely and dot the i’s directly over the letter.

Oh, the days of learning to cross t’s and dot i’s! 

In this fast-paced day and age of getting materials onto the shelves, into our catalog, and onto our website as soon as possible, we so enjoy taking the time to appreciate and admire the work of our predecessors; and we are truly inspired to be carrying on the legacy of documenting, describing, and organizing information for our public—with the same care, only a little faster!

Come take a look at the collection, just ask the Reference Staff.

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