A Different Kind of Card Catalogue

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a librarian tasked with redesigning a library card must be in want of examples. I’ve been in on a few conversations here and there, both online and in meatspace, where librarians are tasked with redesigning their institution’s library cards. It’s almost a given part of the process to seek out other librarians and ask to see what their library cards look like. How much text do you have? Do you use a full graphic? How about the logo? Multi-colour or limited palette? What about a photo? Do you have multiple designs? Do they have a theme? What’s your layout look like?

Warren County Public Library card
Warren County Public Library card

After a recent exchange I thought to myself, surely, there’s an online repository of library card art and design. There’s someplace where librarians can go browse a collection of cards and get some ideas, right? But after I did some searching, I came up empty. Sure, there were places here and there where someone was showing off their library card collection. There were a couple of Pinterest sites with library card images strewn among other library related photos. But I wanted to find a website that offered a collection of cards, tagged, described, geolocated, and available for anyone to see. So far as I could tell, that kind of thing just wasn’t there.

So I built that.

Hey, can you send me a picture of your library card?

I’m working on a thing.

After playing with Piwigo, a newer open source software project that handles image galleries really well, I set up an installation here on Cyberpunk Librarian. After a bit of tweaking, theming, and installing a few plugins, I had a decent looking, empty website. I scanned my own library card and uploaded the image to get things started. Then I put out a call on Facebook and Mastodon, specifically the glammr.us instance, and asked the question that I’d heard so many times.

“Hey, can you send me a picture of your library card? I’m working on a thing.”

That thing isn’t a redesigning project. I’m building a collection, a collection of cards. Tagged, sorted, described, and indexed in a searchable way so librarians and others can have a place to go to check out designs and get those ideas they’re after. It’s not just a collection, it’s a catalogue.

A Card Catalogue.

Norwegian Digital Library Card
Norwegian Digital Library Card

Thanks to the help of several generous folks, both librarians and patrons, I have a starter set of images in the catalogue. But I’m looking to grow it into a much larger collection. As I visit libraries, I’m going to ask to scan their cards for the catalogue. And I’m hoping I can get more people to send me images of their cards. They’ll all wind up in the catalogue, and maybe that’ll help the library community just a little bit.

At the very least, I hope y’all like it and that a few folks will think its useful.

Want to Send Me Your Card?

Would you like to see your library card in the catalogue? Funny that, because so would I! Here’s all you have to do!

  1. Do a quick search of the catalogue to make sure it’s not already in the database. If it is, but you can send in a better image than what I’ve got, then that’s great!
  2. Take a picture or, better yet, scan your library card. JPGs are great, PNGs are better.
  3. Send that image to cyberpunklibrarian@protonmail.com. I will never give away your email information to any third parties, nor will I spam your email. Indeed, the most you’ll likely hear from me is “Awesome! Thanks so much for sending this card!”
  4. Sit back and give me a bit of time to get the image uploaded, tagged, and described. I may be a little busy with some other projects, but I will get that card into the catalogue as soon as I can!

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