Catalog Cards

In our old-fashioned, unmodernized library, there is a petite little device in the back of every book. Used for many decades before modern organization of books came to be, the library catalog is a must. It would have provided the author, title, subject and etcetera about any book located within this fine institution of a library.

At our school, the catalog is a shame.

Every book still gets this cute little stamp every time it is checked out. Even though the entire process is matched digitally, with the student’s ID number punched in with grubby little fingers, and the book properly scanned in, there’s always that callback to the old. Flip. Ink. Stamp. This process should be able to provide everyone with the ability to remember when to turn in their precious books; to be able to get the book to the next patron eagerly waiting to explore the knowledge vested.

At our school, this slip is a reason to despair.

If you look at any one of these slips, you can instantly see the book’s history. You can see the dates when it was last checked out and vividly imagine the causes behind it. You can picture a book about coffee being checked out last winter, and visualize the reader cuddling up besides an open fire, comforted by family and warm tea. You can picture Edgar Allen Poe’s morbid poems being checked out on All Hallow’s Eve, sparking that sense of mystery and danger that we humans love. You could even picture the AP Review books checked out in the crazy torture session we here like to call “May”.

At our school, you can’t see any of this.

See, the sad thing is how using this little slip, you can see the book’s history. And my goodness, what a sad history do our books have.

I just checked out Kitchen, mainly because I can’t get over the fact that due to our slowness, we’re missing an entire unit, but that’s besides the point. Today’s date is 11/30/12. Do you know the last day Kitchen was checked out?

1/13/11. January Third, Two Thousand ELEVEN. 697 days since this book has last seen the light of day.

And that’s not it. The last time before that? March 19th of Twenty Ten.


We have this illusion of knowledge at our fingertips. In fact, it might not even be an illusion, but a reality; infinite knowledge anywhere we go. We can’t throw a rock without discovering a fundamental property of nature. And yet, nobody cares enough to check out a single book. We are so content to just sit and live and go through this mindless routine, that we don’t want to accept the new ideas; we don’t want to challenge our ittle wittle vulnerable brains.


These books sit on the shelves, waiting for a day, where their catalog cards would once again smell the scent of freshly pressed ink, of the sensation of finally seeing the world once more, in a new light.

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