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How to Label a Book – Pic of the Week

Today’s Pic of the Week is another in an occasional series featuring odd and/or outdated library equipment.

A photo of an outdated label cutter that looks like a stapler opened for maintenance.

Can you identify this object? Photo by Betty Lupinacci

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.

A photo of a label feed with the labels "LL RR" being cut.

Cutting labels. Photo by Betty Lupinacci

A photo of a label on the spine of a book that has been applied by heat. The label says "KF 3989.A75 B37 1995 Copy 2"

Heat-applied label. These do not come off without a struggle! Photo by Betty Lupinacci.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

3 Comments

  1. Marcelo
    September 6, 2019 at 7:31 am

    Betty is the best and a treasure! Send her my greetings and love! – Marcelo

  2. Jenny Groome
    September 6, 2019 at 9:42 am

    I used those! But they were right-handed

  3. Kip Roberson
    September 6, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    OK, I’m old! The labeling process described here was the essence of my first library job at the Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, IN. I was one of 2 library school students who spent an academic year labeling law books and documents…as well as the occasional loose leaf filing task. Like the author, I too am left handed but am apparently thankful that I didn’t have to wield an iron to adhere the label…I got to use a hot pad that allowed me to lay the spine on the pad and move to and fro to melt the adhesive and thereby permanently affixing the label to the book for all of eternity. I still suffered the occasional burn from overheated oozy adhesive. Ahhh, the good old days.

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