Book Processing

A variety of equipment is needed to prepare books and other materials for use in the library.  Books need to be tagged with barcodes so they can be tracked in the system when checked out.  Spine labels with the book's call number and library location need to be attached before shelving.  Before computers were available, special equipment was needed to feed the odd sized labels into a typewriter.

In the past, stamps were used to locate books and provide other relevant identifying information.  Books were often stamped on their text block or in another location in the book to identify it indelibly as belonging to the University of Chicago Library.  Journals were bound by title.  A shelve by title stamp was needed to distinguish where to put them in the stacks.  

Journal and some paperbacks books were often too fragile to be placed in the stacks without being bound with a hardcover first.  Journals were usually bound in bundles to save money and space.

book stamps
Book stamps

Photo by Jenny Hart

security strip detector
Security Strip Device

Photo by Jenny Hart

Security strips are placed in books to ensure they are not taken from the library without being checked out.  This device detects metal in objects and was used to detect security strips in books.

spine labels are put on books
Spine labels are put on books

From the University of Chicago Photographic Archive (URL:, Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago. Identifier: apf2-03099.

binding and repair bill
Binding and Repairs Bill itemized in the Annual Report

From: Annual Report for the Year 1896.  The John Crerar Library. Retrieved from Hathi Trust 9/5/17.

Tape feeder
tape feeder for spine label tape

Photo by Jenny Hart

Before the days of computers and printers, typewriters were used to create spine labels.  This machine would be attached to feed the spine labels into the typewriter.


Photo by Jenny Hart

This device works like a small iron.  When plugged in the pad heats and can be used to apply call number and location labels onto the spine of a book.