Library Card Catalogs

Library Card Catalogs

For a little while now I’ve been looking for an old library card catalog.  My quest has largely been disappointing in its results (probably because I don’t want to spend too much on it), but the other day I got a bit of inspiration to keep looking, via this design*sponge spotlight on Matthew Fairbanks. Fairbanks is a Brooklyn-based furniture artist who created this lovely card catalog writing desk.



I went hunting for some other nice card catalog shots and found lots of good ones, rekindling my hope that there’s a card catolog out there for me somewhere…

Good ol’ closeup in this ‘good ol days‘ shot from emdot on flickr:


Very pretty set up on Poetic Home‘s “My Favorite Vintage Things”:


Tasteful (ha ha) use of card catolags on Apartment Therapy:


I love the rich, warm wood of this catalogue from Underpuppy on flickr:


Interesting drawer…“Cataloging the Ladies, Barr Smith Libary, Adelaide” from ms sdb on flickr:


And lastly, a blast from the past — New York Public Library, circa 1923:


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11 thoughts on “Library Card Catalogs

  1. I used the old card catalogues in libraries when I was a youngster. They were large , heavy, solid pieces of furniture. I don’t know how anyone could carry them up a flight of stairs …filled with cards, they must weigh a ton! Only three by five cards would fit the drawers. However, that desk is beautiful and definitely captures the romance or nostalgia of the original catalogues that lined the walls of libraries years ago! I would love to own a desk like that one!

  2. I’m sure you could take out the drawers in order to move it — couldn’t be worse than moving a couch.

  3. Card catalogs have such an alluring appeal to me. The last one of the NY public library is fantastic!

    Thank you very much for including mine in your splendid round up :)

  4. Hey Neil, I do see some on Craigslist every so often but they’re usually several hundred dollars, which is more than I’m willing to pay. I’m not sure where you’re based, but there’s some in the SF Bay Area craigslist section for $300-$600. I’ll let you know if I find something more promising.

  5. @Barry – If you’d like to send me photos and prices, I’ll make a new post for them.

  6. Sure: I can send lots of photos for you to choose from and details if you send me a regular email address.

  7. Barry,

    Do you have any more card catalogs for sale? I’m looking for one with about 20 drawers.

  8. Hi Marianne,
    I’m happy to put together prices and photos for a blog post when I return from vacation April 10. In the meantime, if you would like to communicate about a 20 drawer unit (which I do have, in different styles and sizes), let’s discuss “offline.” My email is


  9. I have a library card catalog that has 21 drawers. 15 3 X 5 drawers and 6 5 X 8 drawers. Mounted on legs. The 3 X 5 drawers are arranged 5 across and 3 rows down. The 3rd row has fancy flowered handle drawer pulls. The 5 x 8 drawers are 2 rows of 3 each. the cabinet is all wood. I am trying to find a price for it. Help.

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