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Ellen Terrell, Business Reference Specialist, Science, Technology & Business Division
Created: September 2020
Last Updated: November 2021
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How people work has evolved. Offices with desks have become open space plans, collaborative space, standing desks. Technology made possible alternate arrangements like hotelling, telework, and shared workspaces. This guide is an attempt to present sources related to the history and development the office, its equipment, and how we work. We hope that it can help those who are researching the machines themselves, as well as those researching the impact those machines had and will have on the development of the modern office and how we work. While the guide does not include every available resource, it should provide a good place to start for anyone interested in the topic.
For the equipment that has been included, we have mostly focused on the more obvious machines like typewriters, computers, telephones, and copiers, though we have also included a few that while not typically "office," are closely work-related. We have chosen not to include those inventions that are larger in scope like the light bulb, the elevator, and even air conditioning even though these had a major impact on the modern working environment.
Part of the Science, Technology & Business Division at the Library of Congress, Business Reference Services is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.