Art Inspiration: Salvaged Library Catalog Cards

Mar 18, 2010 by

I apologize that the Week of Library Card Catalogs will need to be extended into a two-week affair.  Amidst my son’s two month vaccine appointment that made my heart hurt, along with practicing Elimination Communication and catching his first smiles and babbles, where did the week go?

However, before the week ends, let’s explore how library catalog cards have been the inspiration for many works of art.  In 2004, when the University of Iowa retired its card catalog, a group of librarians came together to honor the cards, and cARTalog was born.  Impressively, the dedicated cARTalog team was able to salvage 1 million catalog cards — sending them to artists and new adopting homes.  From its galleries, please enjoy some of my favorite art pieces, each inspired by repurposed library catalog cards.

Created by Marlene Russum Scott, this display box is an ode to the endangered species “Charta Catalogue.”  While this was “one of the most recognized birds in modern history, typically found in quiet metropolitan locations,” this species’ flock is almost “completely destroyed in the early 21st century by Info Hawks.”

This piece by Laura Gunnip is entitled “All, extraordinary, scenic, society” — which are four words all extracted from the book titles on every catalog card utilized in the creation.

Created by Kristin Alana Baum, this piece entitled “Actias Luna, Refuge Prayer I” was inspired by the “relationship between a card’s title and the subject” and how ideas are interconnected.  According to the artist, “the cards become symbols….the inner journeys we take when we release ourselves into the world of paper and words.”

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32 Comments

  1. These are wonderful! Thank you for finding and sharing. :)

  2. Such a cool use of found objects! The book nerd in me is totally thrilling with your posts! Hope the baby and his mommy are doing okay post-vaccination visit! I can only imagine how traumatizing that can be!

  3. CJ

    We were thrilled to adopt a card catalog case just last week, but it’s quite a quandary what to do with the cards that I’m removing from it. (It has 72 drawers, so after putting all my tea, spices and canned goods inside, more than half of the drawers are still undisturbed indexes to English Drama, English Literature, and even English Wit.)

    As to the cards I’ve removed, I can’t bear to put them out with the recycling (or even to let them get out of order), so it’s thrilling to see some creative possibilities for reuse out there. Keep these delicious posts coming!

  4. Heather

    Love, love, love card catalogues! What lovely ideas.
    CJ, I would be happy to take some of your cards off your hands . . . you can email me if you’d like.

  5. i think you’re just tackling things in alphabetical order -

    1. baby
    2. blog

    these are wonderful and so creative. hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

  6. Absolutely love Kristin “Actias Lunas” Her work is so beautiful. i once disgned a lighting collection with jose Esteves with antique maps.

  7. What a fantastic project this is, I love the Luna moth design.

  8. Lovely finds! I think the “Actias Lunas” is stunning!

  9. These pieces of art are simply amazing! You should try to put them up in an art community like http://www.theartreserve.com to get more coverage

  10. I wish that our libraries had kept their card catalog systems, as they haven’t quite got the hang of cross referencing via computer. :-/

    Great stuff!

  11. Amy

    pretty artistic :) How I wish I can do this kind of creation ^^

  12. The book nerd in me is totally thrilling with your posts! Hope the baby and his mommy are doing okay post-vaccination visit! I can only imagine how traumatizing that can be!

  13. Thanks very much for posting a lot of this excellent content! Looking forward to reading more!

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  18. The book nerd in me is totally thrilling with your posts! Hope the baby and his mommy are doing okay post-vaccination visit! I can only imagine how traumatizing that can be!

  19. A subject close to my heart cheers, i’ve been thinking about this subject for a while.

  20. Swimmingly close and rearing the roof for bomb shelters

  21. Loosely petulant and exploit over place improvment

  22. That was intriguing . I love your quality that you put into your post . Please do continue with more similar to this.

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  25. Thanks for sparking my thinking cap. Sometimes I get so much in a rut that I just feel like a record.

  26. These are wonderful! Thank you for finding and sharing.

  27. Hi, I was searching on google for art inspiration and I found your site – so many great ideas! Thanks!

  28. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed

    reading.Nice blog,I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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  30. very nice blog.

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