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Widener's new call cards with their mystifying holes and clipped corners are a part of the system installed during the summer to speed up the library's method of keeping record of borrowed books.
With the new card system a skillful operator can arrange as many as 90,000 cards per hour so that they are all placed with their tops up and facing forward. But no more than 15,000 an hour will ever have to be dealt with, the staff believes.
The holes along the edges enable the operator to pick out immediately and in correct order all cards for overdue books on nay particular day. For this purpose all the cards that come in during the day are stacked together and put in a press which cuts a notch in the hole corresponding to that day, after which the cards are filed in the record. Then on the days when books fall due, only three times a week this year, an operator goes through the files with a long "darning needle." He thrusts this through the holes for that day on the cards, lifts them up with the needle, and those which have been notched for that day fall out, leaving the rest on the needle. Those that fall out are used in sending out the overdue notices.
Even when badly folded or crumpled the cards can be smoothed out again and will still work correctly.
Since the new two week limit on books announced last June, the library has been encouraging renewal of books, which may be done by postcard or telephone. In the filling system when a book is renewed, another slip is stapled onto the original card to nullify the first notch, and a new notch is put in it for the new day on which it falls due.
The Library also wished to encourage borrowers to place their names on the waiting list for any book that is out. The cards of persons on the waiting list are also stapled onto the card of the first borrower so that a complete record is kept in one place only. As soon as the book in returned the first person on the list in notified.
The new system makes unnecessary the former practice of having two complete files and making a copy of every call card that comes in.
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