Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Library Charging Systems

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
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on Tuesday, April 07, 2009 in Library artifacts


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In 1881 under the direction of Librarian Klas Linderfelt, the Milwaukee Public Library implemented a new charging system. Linderfelt made a presentation on library charging systems at the 1882 American Library Association conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.  In that presentation he identified twenty questions that should be answered in evaluating a library charging system. The first four were: 1) Is a given book out?; 2) If out, who has it?; 3) When did he [she] take it?; and 4) When is it to be sen for, as overdue?  Another Milwaukee Public Library innovation was the pencil dater. Library charging or circulation systems have been evolving for many decades.  I was recently interviewed by John Kelly of the Washington Post about the stamping of library books with the date due.  Kelly wrote an article in his blog today about the move to printed receipts in public libraries. As a result of the Kelly interview I scanned my library card collection to the Library History Buff website which included this well used Milwaukee Public Library card from the 1920s.


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