Imagine the dark days, when dinosaurs walked the earth and there were no computers at all! I can't imagine keeping track of all circulation exclusively with cards, but it was done. The other thing that would be hard was deciding what books to buy using only print catalogs. No peer reviews! No collection development searches through Follett!
That said, I spent some quality time with two PRINT resources over the weekend, and found a ton of titles I have somehow missed. One was the Bound To Stay Bound Book catalog, which was arranged by author but had very nice three or four line synopses of books. You can probably request a copy at www.btsb.com.
The other was from Follett, which has by far the easiest web site to use. They have recently gotten away from huge, all-encompassing catalogs listing everything they have, and publish First Choice about twice a year. While this doesn't have as many titles as Bound To Stay Bound, it has newer titles, as well as the covers of the books. Request a copy at www.titlewave.com, and while you're there, create a user account for yourself. Not only does it have the collection development search, but you can share order lists with other teachers and librarians.
I have a list of about 80 books I've missed and want to read now. Sigh.