Crafters give new life to discarded library cards!


Residents of Northeast Minneapolis are extraordinarily proud that the American Craft Council has chosen to establish its permanent home in the neighborhood, at the old Grainbelt Brewery at 1224 Marshall. This week Northeast shares the treasure with the nation and beyond as the ACC hosts its major Midwest show featuring more than 200 of the country’s finest contemporary jewelry, clothing, furniture and home decor artists. The Show is April 19-21 at St. Paul River Center.

As it happens this is also National Library Week which is why I found great delight in exploring an armchair experience that blends crafts and libraries in wonderfully inventive ways. The ACC’s Library Card Project left me smiling and in awe of the creativity of the crafters – suffice to say I got lost in learning about what creative minds and hands can do with a discarded library card. The photos are great and the profiles of the crafters are equally enchanting.

Patricia Johnson is credited with having had the vision of the Library Card Project. She is a paper crafter and community organizer in Carol Stream, Illinois. Her idea was to “let new crafters know to step out of their comfort zone and try something on a different scale.”

Crafters did unleash their imaginations. For example, Patti Millington of Kurtistown, HI, created a piece she calls Archive in which “the cards arranged are on a viewing device which, when rotated to align with a certain card, allow a person to look through the eye piece to see an image from the corresponding book across the gallery. The book images are situated on a timeline encircling the gallery that indicates the era of the craft represented in the book described on the library card.” Millington says that “the catalog cards with their Dewey Decimal numbers and handwritten notations spoke of our collective efforts to preserve the information and objects that mark our existence. The information and dates on the cards were a perfect fit for an idea I’ve had for a piece recording fleeting human impressions on the history of time.” Millington captures the essence of the project.

The only way to appreciate the Library Card Project is to spend time absorbing the visual images and reading the words of the crafters. You’ll learn about the expanse of their creative imaginations – and find a beautiful new life for discarded library catalog cards. Click on

You’ll also be inspired to drop in at the American Craft Council show in downtown St. Paul this weekend. For complete information on hours, exhibitors and more go to