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A Card Catalogue
BACK STORY : The Card Catalogue

August 24, 2014

A Card Catalogue

I love writing that word.


Not, catalog _ _ .

; o

Our original Card Catalogue with vintage egg beater drills. Which came first, the egg beater or the drill ?

So, the card catalogue.
From the time I understood the concept that learning the alphabet would enable me to read books, I’ve kind of had a thing for words and stories. Literature, libraries, library furniture, and more specifically, card catalogues.
For the first half of my life, my Mom worked as a librarian.
I would meet her after school on a daily basis, after my French Immersion Classes ended, and I would literally get lost for hours, rollin’ and rambling’ my way through the cabinets, all covered with little rows of drawers filled with cards.

My young fingers would walk off the titles as they skipped and strolled along the cards.
One by one, like dominoes or toy soldiers, they all fell down as I crept my way through to the back of each and every drawer.
One to the next, I imagined a universe of adventure, inspiration, and to my surprise, education.

I was enrolled in an Immersion class, which meant that all of my daily classes were in French.
Math, Social Studies, Science and History were all taught in French for the first seven years of public school.
The only English we would study was, well- English.

For a couple of years, we had a retired Catholic Nun teaching our English Class.
She was an amazing teacher ~ ( the kind you’d only find in a book or Hollywood film today. )
She would sit at the front of the class and read Shakespeare to us and I just couldn’t get enough!

My Mother fully supported my new found interest for literature and would often take me to the local University to watch performances of Macbeth and Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.
I was around 10 years old and like a sponge.
Not only for the stories, but how the stories were told, how the stages were fabricated, and how these imaginary worlds were created. I took note of how the sets were decorated, and the delivery of lines by the student actors of the day.
I was hooked.

Decades later, after 15 years of working in Set Design, Production and Manufacturing,
I still find myself thinking of those Libraries, the books, the Library furniture, and those card catalogues.
Like towers guarding a right of passage, the card catalogues would be the introduction to a Library.

Every librarian seemed to hold a quiet pride in their card catalogues- and it was a memorable day when I received my first Library card. The Librarian handed me the freshly minted card, and from there, the first stop on the Library tour would be the card catalogue section. This was the gateway- the place it could all begin.

I can still hear her voice, “Welcome to the Library…and this is our catalogue section.”

You’re not likely to hear those words again with today’s modern methods of accessing and cataloging books.
At best, you’ll get a “Our computer area is over there…and the WiFi password is….”

A bit of the sparkle has gone.

The rhythm of your fingers, skipping across the cards.
That feeling will be forgotten in generations to come, and has already been replaced with the sound of fingers on a keyboard.

As I sit here and post about this card catalogue, my mind keeps jumping ahead to my Maple Leaf Forever projects,
all coming this Fall and all destined for the Library of Parliament, in Ottawa.

( you’ll be able to watch those projects come together in the Membership area- An Unplugged Life.com – from design to construction, with all of the head scratching between! )

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
There really are no coincidences.

If you look back over your life, is their a piece of furniture that comes to mind?
Is there a form or shape that defines you?
I’m happy I was able to include this project in The Unplugged Woodshop
it has a sentimental meaning as well as one of practicality.
Our old card catalogue, here in our kitchen here on the Coast, was rescued about 12 years ago when my wife and I were dumpster diving behind her public school in Toronto. They were throwing out their card catalogues so we were able to ‘rescue’ a couple of them.

It has served us well for 12 years while the new walnut and zebra wood version from my book, stands in our city kitchen, back in Toronto.

There are a lot of parts and components to this project; techniques and skills.
But when you break them all down into their simplest form, there isn’t any part that should be out of reach.

Here’s an excerpt from The Unplugged Woodshop with a little history about the design.

exerpt from The UW

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