We recently saw an old card catalog at an antique mall. What memories that brought back!
When I was in grade school and high school, I frequently rode the bus downtown on Saturdays to the main branch of the Cincinnati Public Library. In those days, decades before the advent of online catalogs, the library had row after row of these sturdy wooden structures. That’s how one found the books, usually older ones, that were in the stacks and not on display.
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a book about books called Through the Magic Door. To me, those card catalogs were magic doors to mystery. Through them, I encountered the novels of such great writers as John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, Leslie Charteris, Stuart Palmer, and others less well known.
And then there was Sherlock Holmes.
Looking up “Sherlock Holmes” in the card catalog opened to me the whole world of what Sherlockians call the Writings About the Writings – scholarship about the Great Detective.
Among the books I remember reading in those days were Carr’s The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Queen’s The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, Vincent Starrett’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Edgar W. Smith’s Profiles by Gaslight, and S.C. Roberts’ Holmes and Watson. Now each of those books is part of my own library, along with a few hundred more.
All because of the card catalog. Do you remember card catalogs?