Before automated circulation systems, we had McBee Cards. The McBee Keysort System consisted of punched cards and a needle. Different types of information could be written on the cards, such as borrower status,  item call numbers, and due-date.

Holes around the edges of the cards could be punched out, so that when the needle was inserted in the desired place, those cards which satisfied certain criteria would fall out of the pile. McBee cards could be multi-part, with one part being made of heavy cardboard, another of paper, perhaps with a tear-off stub.

When a book went overdue, the paper copy could be mailed to the borrower.

A notch could be punched in the appropriate place, so cards satisfying certain criteria would “fall out” of the deck. 

This late model McBee needle has a plastic handle. Earlier models were made of wood. McBees were used in circulation and interlibrary loan, for inventories, and more.

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