Library of Congress Acquires Historical Airfare Collection
The Library of Congress has acquired 1,588 volumes of airline tariffs, rules and routes from the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, ensuring that future generations will see how flights were sold, ticketed and distributed from the 1940s through the dawn of the internet age.
Since 1965, the company has collected and distributed the world’s fare and fare-related data to the global ecosystem so travel agents, airlines, global distribution systems and sales channels can sell airline tickets to the public. Before the digital age, these fares, rules and routes were published and printed at the company and distributed around the world in large bound books.
This large collection contains tariffs and rules for cargo, military, passenger and joint passenger travel for domestic, international, and regional travel up to as late as 2004.
This record of the evolution of air passenger travel through the lens of fares and tariffs will be a significant addition to the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division. The Library is processing and cataloging the collection. Once the work is complete, members of the public will be able to request volumes through the Library’s online catalog and view the materials in the Science and Business Reading Room.
“The entire Airline Tariff Publishing Company and I are so proud to have donated a piece of aviation history to such a respected institution as the Library of Congress. Knowing that it will live on for years to come and be available to the public to view is an exhilarating thing for us ‘aviation geeks’,” said the company’s President and CEO, Alex Zoghlin.
“It’s a little crazy to think how much has changed since the 1990s in the way the whole travel industry does business. The old way of printing and shipping fare books around the world that were valid for months at a time seems so archaic by today’s standard, where a digital fare can be updated hourly online. We are so happy this part of history is curated by the Library of Congress,” Zoghlin continued.
Before popular websites like Kayak or Expedia let consumers compare and purchase tickets directly on the internet, airlines would give their flight and fare data to the company, which became the go-to clearinghouse in the travel industry.
This is the first time the public will have access to the company’s tariff books. Researchers, aviation and aeronautics historians, educators and academics, students and anyone interested will be able to access this information to gain further knowledge of the commercial air travel industry.
“This collection provides an enormous amount of data that can be used by researchers to examine the airline industry during the 20th century. This unique collection complements other materials on aeronautics held at the Library of Congress, so I’m excited that these volumes have become part of the Library’s permanent collection,” said Natalie Burclaff, section head of business reference in the Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division.
Filed under: Data Files, Libraries, News, Publishing
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.