Library card design – does it matter?

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My nephew Joe, a graphic designer, is not very impressed with the Surrey library card: “Kids aren’t going to be inspired by this!” (I think it’s quite attractive, although it does look a bit like a National Trust membership card.)

I’d never really thought about it before, but perhaps having an attractive card would encourage young people to use libraries more. We could offer people a choice of designs, a bit like when you’re buying a gift card from a shop, but would the cost be too high in these difficult times? A few years ago in Sandwell libraries we were told that we couldn’t use coloured ink for posters or flyers in order to save money, but then someone realised that if we didn’t market ourselves more effectively then we’d end up saving even more money by closing the libraries!

What do you think? Is it worth spending money on library card design? Have you come across a really attractive card? Personally I’d love to see a range of cards with portraits of famous authors or fictional dogs on them!


4 thoughts on “Library card design – does it matter?

  1. thestoryofrei

    I think for adults it probably won’t matter all that much (though I do have to agree that design looks like a bank card). For kids though, it may just make going to the library that much cooler. Also, I think there’s an opportunity there for increased interaction. What about holding a contest to get kids directly involved in designing a really cool library card?

  2. hafuboti

    I’m a big believer of branding, and I think that the cards are a big part of it. Even if someone doesn’t come into the library on a regular basis, then they will likely carry around their card with them. It’s important for them to feel proud to have that card among the others whenever they catch a glimpse of it regardless of the person’s age.

    I really like the idea of having different authors represented along with a strong/simple logo for the library. Perhaps get local artists to submit options? I’d be wary of having children design the card if you’re only allowed to have one card (since I believe only the child and his/her family would enjoy carrying around something that looks childish – harsh but true. We used to have an annual “children design a shirt for the library” contest. You rarely saw the shirts worn around town outside of the winner’s family. We stopped doing it two years ago and it hasn’t been missed).

    I think that the New York Public Library has a very nice card (be careful if you look up the image – for some reason there are a lot of virus-filled links attached to them). It’s bold and has their branded lion on it. Our own card is pretty bold but boring. Maybe when it gets to a time closer to reordering we’ll consider updating it.

    Whoah! Sorry that my reply is at least the length of your post! It’s a very interesting topic that I hadn’t thought of a whole lot before now.

    1. blackcountrylibrarian Post author

      Thanks for this. Interesting to hear your views on children’s art and it’s certainly something to consider. The New York Public Library card is very striking (I was careful not to click on the image!) and would certainly stand out from other cards in your wallet but when we all have so many cards now it’s getting harder and harder to make a library card look different and say something about libraries at the same time.


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