In history, stories can be about objects as well as people. Certain objects become obsolete, usually due to technological advances, but that doesn’t mean that they go away.
In libraries, before you could easily and electronically search for books, we used card catalogs. These were cabinets with drawers (and drawers, and more drawers) filled with cards. In the catalogs I remember, each book had three separate cards, filed in separate sections of the catalog, with one listing the book by author, one by title, and one by subject. That way you could search for a book several different ways, depending on what you knew about a particular book. Or you could search for all books by the same author or the same subject.
If you knew how to use the card system, you could find anything in the library. You could even sometimes find interesting notes written on the cards, either changes made by the librarians or comments from readers or from those not happy to be forced to spend time in the library. Since libraries have stopped using them, many of these cards have been thrown away. But check out “The Library Card Project at the American Craft Council” at The Library As Incubator Project to see how some of these cards have been used to create art.
But more than the cards, the actual card catalogs are enjoying new life since they’ve been removed from libraries. Although some were metal, most were crafted from wood. Nostalgia plays a part in the current demand for these catalogs, but they also just look really cool. Because the drawers are perfect for storing small items, many people are repurposing these pieces to serve new roles. Even Mental Floss had an article about “10 Fun Uses for Old Card Catalogs”.
No matter how well you knew the old card system, it is easier to search for items using the electronic means now available. But while I don’t long for the days of more difficult searches, I am happy to see that we aren’t losing these beautiful old pieces. As long as they remain in some form, you can tell your grandchildren the original use for these pieces and what you had to go through to find a book.