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18 Apr 2018
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8+ Creative Ways to Use to Old Library Cards

As you well know, I love books, art supplies, and journaling. Recently, I started offering a session called “Notable Note-taking”. It is a mash-up of bullet journaling and a reader/writer’s notebook and I blend both analog and digital tools. One of my favorite analog tools is the library card. In the art journaling and mixed media realm and on etsy, this little gem is quite the hot commodity. In fact Heidi Pitri has just published a book entitled “Permanent Record” using this kickstarter campaignĀ that features artfully embellished ones. She refers to these cards as “borrower cards” or “signature cards” and has created original pen and ink drawings on these cards from classic titles and authors. Check her out on Instagram @heidipitreart. Oftentimes these library cards are referred to as ephemera (e.g. collectible memorabilia). And if you have a few hours, search “ephemera” on etsy. You will discover 200,000+ results. And a search on etsy of “library cards” provides well over 7,000 results.

Let’s Love on these Library Cards…

So… I thought I would share some ideas for using these library cards in the classroom… The idea would be to let students choose a card that speaks to them by the title alone and then…

  • Compose a Poem
  • Generate a List
  • Create a List of Suggested Books (like Amazon)
  • Compose a Soundtrack for the Book
  • Jot down the first and last Sentence of the book
  • Determine what questions this book Answers
  • Chart out the chapters this book would include
  • Draft the cover of the book
  • Imagine Who would Check Out this book (e.g. current, historical, literary, fictional)

And here are a few examples of how I have used them in the past in my own journal:

Truly, the sky is the limit for these and how they are used. And remember these can be app smashed with pretty much any tool to create something really amazing. Oh wait… I think I gave away the next part…. šŸ˜‰

Let Me at those Library Cards

Of course the problem with these signature or library cards is that they are indeed ephemera and at some point, they will run out… so I decided to scan 50 or so of my favorites and upload them here. The beauty of making them digital is that we will have them preserved forever AND now they can be mixed with digital elements. They can be annotated in apps like Notability, collaged and embellished in apps like Pic Collage, and augmented in Thinglink. I hope you enjoy. And if you come up with another idea for these and/or would like to share yours or your student’s creations… please email me at or tweet me @TechChef4u.


Literally Ephemera is Legit

I really try. But I am literally incapable of ending a blog post without leaving you with just a bit more… If you like this idea of ephemera and creative writing, let’s take a quick jaunt. I have curated two Pinterest boards of digital ephemera goodies here (Fuzzimo and Ephemera). These should be FREE downloads of digitally scanned in goods and papers. And if you are like me and want to wholeheartedly tumble down the rabbit hole, I will leave you with some other sites to soften the blow. šŸ˜‰ These little analog… now digital gems are perfect for visual research papers and assignments as well as some pretty stellar creative writing projects too.

  • The Ephemera Society: They include an item of the month with a description and sometimes historical relevance.
  • Vintage Images Gallery: There are thousands of images included her and classified by section (e.g. labels, ads, movie posters, fashion, etc…)
  • Inspired Barn: There are many freebies on this site. Some of my favorites are the book covers and vintage mail.
  • Artefacts: This site is a treasure trove.
  • Clearly Vintage: Also fantastic. I love that she shares pictures with descriptions.

Sometimes I share fully baked ideas and sometimes I like to provide all the ingredients and see what you cook up. In this case, I have opted for the latter. Dig into these digital goods and consider how these historical artifacts can and should impact and inform our current art, writing, research, storytelling, and ideas.



If you want to get a head start on all things #ScrapNotes before my next postā€¦ check out these 5 posts and stay tuned for more:


If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know more about her speaking history or professional development portfolioā€¦ visit theĀ TechChef4u speaking pageĀ for more info or emailĀ

Andā€¦ Check out her latest creationā€¦ the book ā€œCultivating Communication in the Classroom: Future-Ready Skills for Secondary Students.ā€