Paper Machines

Markus Krajewski, Paper Machines. About Cards & Catalogs, 1548–1929, Cambridge: The MIT Press, Mass., 2011, 224 Seiten, 24 figures.


Today, on just about every desk there is a gray box emitting a range of wires. 70 years ago, this data processing box was less conspicuous, non-electronic and made from wood—a literal paper machine. Notes & Quotes explores the way this indexing ›machine‹ set out on its triumphant march, entering offices and orderly rooms around 1930 as a universal and crucial instrument for data processing, and eventually transmuting into the »Universal Machine« known as the computer. Notes & Quotes follows the development of the index card along its various historical breaches, beginning with the first references to the indexing of knowledge in early modern times. The book examines the almost accidental introduction and gradual assertion of card index boxes in libraries around 1800 and glances at the production conditions of literature with the aid of index files, before suggesting a discursive transference between the institutions of writing, that is, libraries and offices. Among its protagonists are, e.g., Melvil Dewey, known as the father of the Decimal Classification System, or William Croswell, yet unknown as America’s laziest librarian, but inventor of Harvard College Library’s card catalog.



Information Research, November 2011 Tom Wilson, Paper Machines

The Library Quarterly, vol. 82, no. 4, October 2012 Andrew B. Wertheimer, Good scholars live for footnotes

Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 8, 2012 Suzanne M. Stauffer

Cabinet Magazine. Issue 47, Fall 2012 Interview with Brian Dillon, Paper Machines: An Interview with Markus Krajewski

Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 64, no. 2, 23. January 2013 Alistair Black, About Cards & Catalogs

InterActions, vol. 9, no. 1, 2013 Morgan Currie, Review: Paper Machines

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Isis, vol 104, no. 1, March 2013 Gregoire Chamayou, Paper Machines

Icon, vol. 20, No. 1, International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC), Symposia Anniversary Edition (2014), pp. 166-167 Anne Hiller Clark, Paper Machines


The Page 99 Test, 20. December 2011 Marshal Zeringue, Paper Machines

Library History Bluff Blog, 1. May 2012 Larry T. Nix, How the Library Catalog Card Transformed the Business World

Future of the book, 9. June 2012

Digital Histories at Yale, 10. September 2012 One man’s trash… is another man’s archive.

Easily Distracted, 19 September 2012 Timothy Burke, Paper Machines?

Rorotoko., 30. January 2012 Markus Krajewski, Cutting-edge Intellectual Interviews

New Jack Librarian, 11. September 2015 Mita Williams, Library of Cards