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A History of Library Hand

Book Riot: “Before HTML/XML, database design and informatics were necessary skills to have or understand to work in libraries, there was a crucial requirement to obtain a job: mastery of library hand. Library hand, a specific style of handwriting, was once a highly-sought and praised manner of lettering and spacing and a requirement for many eager to enter the field. So what is library hand and what differentiates it from other handwriting? What made it fall out of fashion? Let’s nerd out on handwriting and specifically, the history of library hand…

Library card catalogs, now almost entirely digital databases, once greeted eager readers and researchers in libraries. For most readers now who are familiar with the original catalogs, each card included information about a book’s subject, authorship, and location on the shelves. Memory most likely serves up typewritten cards in a style that was mirrored at the vast majority of libraries one visited. But before the rise of typewriters, those cards were handwritten, and in order to become the most useful tools they could be for users, library hand became the style in which they were created…” [As a former “cataloger” I recall this work well, and miss it.]

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