Friday, April 22, 2011

Library Book Perforating Device


Throughout the history of libraries they have taken steps to protect their collections from theft. Some early libraries actually chained their books to the bookshelves to avoid theft. A more low key approach has been the use of ownership markings in library books. One method for inserting ownership markings in books was the use of an embossing device such as the one used by the Suquamish Library Association in Washington State. Another method involved the use of a perforating device. One of those devices was marketed by Melvil Dewey's Library Bureau around the turn of the twentieth century. I was recently contacted by Stan Schulz, Director of the Kilgore Memorial Library in York, Nebraska, to let me know about their vintage perforating device which came from the Library Bureau. In addition to the perforating device, the Kilgore Memorial Library has the 1900 edition of the Library Bureau supply catalog which depicts the device. Schulz has posted some photos of the Library Bureau catalog and the perforating device on Flicker. One of the photos is shown above. Interestingly, Bernadette A. Lear, Editor of the Library History Round Table Newsletter, included a short piece in the Fall, 2010 issue of the newsletter about the Library Bureau perforating device. Bernadette also has a 1900 edition of the Library Bureau supply catalog, as do I. Bernadette speculates on the origination of the idea for using a perforating device for marking library books, and notes that they were also used to mark postage stamps. The Early Office Museum website includes a section on Antique Check Canceling Machines which provides a more direct connection to the Library Bureau device. Schulz has identified the Library Bureau device as being manufactured by the B. F. Cummins Company of Chicago and links to the patents for the device. The Early Office Museum website in turn illustrates check canceling machines from the Cummins Company. It is great that the Kilgore Memorial Library has preserved one of the tools used by libraries in the past, and thanks to Stan Schulz for sharing images of the perforating device. This is one approach to creating a virtual library museum much like the Early Office Museum has done for office artifacts.

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