We found the above-pictured object in the deep recesses of a supply cabinet. Unfortunately as is often the case, I am the last remaining Law Library staffer to have seen or used this item. It harks from the dark days before we had automated label printers for adding call numbers to books.
We used to have to type individual labels onto either pre-cut sheets or continuous label stock. The latter came in narrow rolls of thermal material with a thick backing. After typing the label you would feed the roll into the cutter pictured here, press the handles together and voila – you had a label ready and just needed to peel off the backing and attach it to the volume!
Only that wasn’t really the end of the process.
This label stock, as I mentioned, was thermal. It had to be applied to the book with heat if you wanted it to stay attached for any length of time. So we also had a supply of small irons with long handles that you would use to iron the label on to the book.
As I am not the most adroit person (which I blame on being left-handed), I burned my fingers with frightening regularity or would drop the iron onto my lap, scorching my clothing.
No one was happier than me when these devices were retired in favor of our turbo-charged/self-cutting/non-thermal label printers.
Ain’t technology grand!