Fragrance-coded card catalog

In 1974, the public library in Upper Arlington, Ohio added scratch-and-sniff scents to its card catalog. They called it the "Stick Your Nose in the Card Catalogue" program.

The idea was that the card in the catalog would have a scent, and then the book on the shelf would have a matching scent. So you could find your books by smell. There were about 60 scents in total, including apple, chocolate, garlic, lemon, roses, root beer, leather, pizza, orange, strawberry, candles, pine, cheddar cheese, clover, and smoke.

I was curious what became of the scented catalog, so I emailed the library and asked. The reply came just a few minutes later:

Unfortunately, the UA Library no longer has this catalog, and has not had a physical card catalog since around August 1989. We aren't sure what exactly happened to the scented catalog, but we guess that the cards eventually lost their scent over time, but remained part of the catalog until it was decommissioned.

And they also emailed me a news clipping about the catalog (in extended, below) from the local Upper Arlington paper.

The Vernon Daily Record - Feb 9, 1975



San Antonio Express - Apr 11, 1976



Upper Arlington News - Aug 22, 1974
Click to enlarge



Click to enlarge

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 16, 2018
Category: Libraries, 1970s, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents





Comments
I just gotta ask: Was there a card referencing dung?
Posted by KDP in Madill, OK on 01/16/18 at 07:25 AM
Skunk would be good for a book no one likes. How about Eau de Paper Mill ?
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 01/16/18 at 12:57 PM
I do NOT want to know what smell they associated with books about sex.
Posted by Phideaux in in his own little world on 01/16/18 at 02:27 PM
@Phideaux - Candy. (One hit wonder '90s band reference)
Posted by PupTentacle on 01/16/18 at 03:21 PM
I don't think my local library ever had scratch and sniff cards, but right now they have a seed library housed in some of those small wooden drawers that used to hold the book cards: https://www.meadpl.org/services/meads-seed-library.

Incidentally, my 1970 college yearbook included a scratch and sniff card; it had the odor of tear gas. (It was from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which had mass protests against the war, so nearly all students were somewhat familiar with the smell.) I still have that yearbook and the card, although I haven't scratched it for decades.
Posted by Fritz G in Soudan Level 27 on 01/17/18 at 06:42 AM
PupTentacle, I thought for sure you meant the book "Candy," which was required (underground) reading at my High School.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 01/17/18 at 09:07 AM
I pity the students researching sewage treatment plants.
Posted by Brian in Denial on 01/17/18 at 10:00 PM
Fritz, I like how your library repurposed the card catalog drawers. I remember seeing some huge ones for free on Craigslist several years ago. I suspect most of them ended up in landfills.
Posted by ges on 01/20/18 at 07:02 PM
ges - Many of those drawers were sold as surplus and are now in homes around my area. Several units are also still being used in the Sheboygan County Historical Research Center building in Sheboygan Falls. You can bet if the Center decides to get rid of them, they will be purchased and not scrapped. Some may even end up in the County Museum, since they are definitely an important part of our local history.
Posted by Fritz G in Soudan Level 27 on 01/20/18 at 07:37 PM









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