The Olin Library Call Board
Until the mid-1990s, access to Olin Library’s stacks was limited to faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students with a stack pass. Library staff would “page” books for patrons who were not allowed into the stacks. When the book was ready and waiting at the Circulation Desk, the patron’s number would light up on the call board.
Patricia Kelly ’63 checks out books in her role as weekend student assistant at the circulation desk in Olin Library. Note the numbers on the call board just over her head, lit up to indicate that books awaited researchers who did not have stack privileges.
Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
A sample McBee card illustrates the procedure for checking out books before automation. On the front side of the card, the borrower would record his or her name, address, and phone number, along with information on the author, title, and call number of the book. Note the call board number box in the upper right-hand corner of the card, where library staff would record the borrower’s paging request number. The back of the card was used to record searches for missing books.
Cornell “Main Library” “Home Use” Slip, ca. 1932.
Before McBee cards, library patrons filled out a “home use” check-out slip. The back of the slip outlines “home use rules,” including the policy that all books must be returned at the end of the academic year for inspection and repairs.
Back in the days when Olin’s stacks were not open, library staff would “page” books for patrons who were not allowed to go into the stacks. Pneumatic tubes (also known as Lamson tubes) sent book requests to library staff situated in the stacks via a mechanism employing compressed air. The staff member would then locate the book and deliver it to the circulation desk.