Kardex Filing System for Serials

Talking recently to a colleague I asked her if she had heard of some sort of library technology of the past known as Kalamazoo – I have this vague memory of this tem, but couldn’t find anything that rang a bell via Google. She didn’t recall that but went on to describe a serials filing system she had once used and she thought it began with ‘K’ maybe Kardex….

Great! That will do for the letter K post.

“Serials include periodicals, annual reports, yearbooks, journals, bulletins, memoirs, proceedings and transactions of learned societies, newspapers, occasional publications from societies, sets of volumes, i.e. continuations, etc. This presents a great challenge to the serials departments in academic and research libraries. Howsoever great the serials collection of a library may be if it is not recorded, controlled, and serviced properly, it is not of very much use to the scholar.” – Lakhanpal. S.K. (1971)

Lakhanpal goes into detail of how the Kardex system was used to record which issues had arrived, and the travails encountered in serials departments of the day..

“For multiple subscriptions there should be a separate card for each subscription. The publishers have a bad habit of sending the journals for each subscription separately. This means if a library has three subscriptions to a journal it is not necessary that all the three copies will come in one package or at one time”

Miss Shirley Robbins looks through a Kardex, January 8, 1952

Flickr Image “Miss Shirley Robbins looks through a Kardex, January 8, 1952” by North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (http://www.flickr.com/photos/51509718@N06/8264746336/) Some rights reserved.

This little gem of a publication was available for the grand sum of $2.00 and is now a fascinating look into a past practice that sounds so antiquated in this age of e-journals, openURL resolvers, aggregators and digital object identifiers.

Kardex is still around offering storage and materials handling solutions.


Lakhanpal, S.K. (1971) A manual for recording serial publications in Kardex. Rev. Ed. Murray Memorial Library, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada. (http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/detail?accno=ED060887) Viewed 11 June 2013