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Organization of the Collection & Card Catalogues


Claude Bissell, President of the U of T, and Lorna Fraser, Head of the Catalogue Department file cards for the first book in the newly-adopted Library of Congress classification system.


The main card catalogue of Robarts Library, 1973

Prior to 1959, the collection was organized according to an in-house classification system. In the stacks, the books were shelved alphabetically in very broad disciplinary categories, such as HCan for Canadian history. The Library of Congress Classification (LCC), a standard organizational scheme in many academic libraries, was adopted by UTL in 1959 and is now widely used across the system.

Prior to the introduction of the Computer Output Microform (COM) catalogue in 1976, librarians relied on the card catalogue to organize the collection. The catalogue consisted of 3 x 5-inch cards imprinted with bibliographic information for each item in the collection, including: author, title, publisher, year of publication, call number and physical dimensions. The cards were produced on a typewriter and filed manually by cataloging staff. Copies of cards were duplicated and filed in four separate catalogues: by author, title, subject and shelf list. Cataloging was a repetitive, labour-intensive process.  

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Organization of the Collection & Card Catalogues