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The card catalogue

Watch Access All Areas: the card catalogue

Once upon a time, in a pre-computer world, items in the State Library Victoria collection were recorded on a series of small cards. 

These cards were handwritten in ornate and exquisite copperplate – back when fine penmanship was actually a prerequisite for becoming a librarian!

Kate Torney takes us down to the atmospheric catacombs of the Library for a closeup view of the 'Google of the 1800s': the handwritten records (and the musty smell!) of more than 100 years of Library history.

Discover more about the card catalogue

  • The card catalogue records precious information that isn't captured elsewhere, making it a vital repository of the Library's collection history. In fact, the story behind the Library's purchase of one of the world's greatest works of book art – Audubon's Birds of America – came to light here. Find out more about how the card catalogue revealed the provenance of this remarkable and extremely rare work. 
  • For data geeks and information management afficionados: read our cataloguing policy.
  • Unlike the old card catalogue, our online catalogue is available to be searched by everybody! Explore the treasures of our extensive collection in our online search catalogue.

About Access All Areas

In this video series, join CEO Kate Torney for exclusive insights into her most cherished collection items, spaces (including some that even staff can't access!), legends and legacies at State Library Victoria.

Find out more and view all episodes of Access All Areas.