Photo Vomit [20]: Old Books and Library Cards


I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of going to used books shops. I’ll never tire of walking in and taking a deep breath just to get a whiff of that old book smell.  I especially like it when I see an old library card at the back of old books. Like this one  at the back of a Longfellow’s poem collection.


I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed the card is void of borrowers. It would’ve been interesting to see a list of names, patrons of poetry written on the card. And dates. I would’ve loved to see the name of the last time someone borrowed it before it was put on a clearance bin for sale. 


As well on this old copy of Emma by Jane Austen. 
I’d like to think that the reason why these cards are empty was simply because they’re not the first cards on their sleeves, a refill, as it were. I’d like to think that the reason the books look so worn out is because they’ve been lent out, read far too many times to count, hence the “new” unfilled cards. It’s been years since I’ve been to the library. I tell myself that I’m doing my part by not borrowing books so others can borrow them instead of me. 
  • Gosh, those little library cards bring back memories of when I was a page in my elementary school library. I had two jobs: 1. stamp the return date of the book on the library card and 2. shelve the books. I miss those days…

  • Your brownie camera is gorgeous, Joy, as is your pictured collection of old books. I love seeing old library slips, although you’re right- I don’t often see ones that are full or have more than one name on them. It’d be so interesting if they were still widely in use, seeing who picked up the books before you, seeing if you recognised any names. They’re just old school and kinda fantastic, too, so I’m all for that.
    Lovely, lovely post and pictures. You do such a good job.

  • Looking at those old cards brings back so many memories. I actually just got a set of notecards from a Book Riot subscription box that are designed to look just like those old cards. I love them! They’re not practical at all for writing notes, even though I’ve tried. 🙂

  • At my library, we don’t even use cards anymore, I think the last time I did was back in elementary school! Good times!

  • Ohhh, I wish we had dedicated second hand bookshops around near me. We have a few second hand bric a brac ones, but all they seem to sell are those falling apart bodice rippers that are on their last legs. All my classics are new sadly, but at least Penguin have those lovely clothbound editions, so started to collect those. I’ve actually never been to a library since I was in high school. I really should join up at my local, just to see if they have similar sales as well. I LOVE photo vomit! <3

  • I don’t collect old books, but I do love visiting used bookstores. I have always gone to the library although a lot less since I got my first Kindle. And I love your pictures too!

  • I’d agree with you! Those cards certainly look newer than the books. There’s nothing better than finding a cool old version of a beloved book. I love finding inscriptions most!

  • That’s cool! Quite a few years ago I found an old library book … like real old, and it was from back south. I don’t even remember the book, but I wish I had kept it.

    • Yes! I’m always on the lookout for those. I would really love to see the names of the people who’ve borrowed them. Won’t it be cool?

  • Jazmen

    I love how old and loved these books look. I know they don’t have a lot of borrowers on the cards but I want to believe they’re loved!

    • Got to be! Have to be. Otherwise, that’s just…sad. 🙁

  • I feel guilty for not borrowing books from the library (sometimes I do when it’s for school work but other than that, just no).. Anyway, I kind of love looking at old books. I have of couple of them given to me by my mom although they’re paperbacks.. and by the way, I always love your photos, Joy! 🙂

    • I feel the same way. Heck, I don’t even remember the last time I’ve been in one. Sigh.

  • Melliane

    It’s true that it’s always funny to see things like that in the books we can buy. Beautiful pictures lady!

  • RO

    A friend of mine owns a very modern consignment and thrift store, but most of books amazingly are older, and I love it, because they can be so hard to find. Thanks for the fantastic pic and memories! Hugs…Ro

    • You’re welcome, Ro. Always love these old books. One of these days, I’m hoping to find one with a letter in it.

  • That’s what I thought so too, that maybe that’s a refill that’s why it has few names. This post reminds me of when I was in elementary. I wanted to leave my name on every library card that I borrowed books every day lol

    • Hahah! Now, I wanted to buy all the books I can get my hands on instead of writing my name on the cards of all the books in the library. Oh how times have changed!

  • shootingstarsmag

    Old library cards are great! When I was in elementary school, our school library had all those cards in the back to check books out. I kind of miss it now that it’s all online.

    • Nowadays, I don’t even know how one checks out a book. Is everything digital?

      • shootingstarsmag

        Yes, as far as I know! Every library I’ve been too it’s been through a computer. 🙂

  • Those are so awesome!

  • The only time I ever had a library card like that was in primary school 😛 But I do love old books even now – the look, feel and even smell of them sometimes, with the neat engravings. Looks so gorgeous in the photos <3

    • I think so too. There’s just so much untold history in them which is what draws me to old books in thrift stores.

  • I loved those old library cards 🙂

  • Aw, this is so awesome 😀 I love that you adore books like this. <3 Stunning post Joy. Love the pictures 🙂

  • kindlemom1

    Oh my gosh, I remember filling those out ages and ages ago! What fun!
    Thanks for sharing this, it brings back memories!!

    • You’re welcome. One of these days, I’ll do a fact-finding research. I haven’t been to a library in ages.

  • I can’t believe nobody checked out Longfellow!

    • Right? But I like to think that this is a new card before it got sent to the clearance table at the library.

  • Ha! I actually remember some of my library books having those slots

  • Jenny @ Supernatural Snark

    The spines of old books are just so gorgeous Joy, I want bookcases full of them! Modern covers can be absolutely stunning, but these old beauties will always make me stare (and drool). So pretty!

    • I love them, too! They just look sturdier. 🙂

  • Oh man! I’m totally salivating over your old copies, Joy. I LOVE library cards too. Back when they still had them at my library, I loved finding out who had the book before me and when they picked it up. Your photos are so gorgeous!

    • That’s the best thing about those old library cards, I think. Can you imagine actually knowing the person on that list? Do you think you can go and hunt them down just to talk about it?

  • ChristinaBookAddict

    Wow! I absolutely love your old books and it’s so cool that some have library cards. I just started collecting some old books a few years ago, but none of them have library cards. I will have to keep my eye out for books w/ library cards next time I go into the used bookstore b/c that is really, really cool. Happy Friday!

    • It’s a fun hobby of mine. The library cards are a bonus, too.