The University of Iowa Libraries is looking for help in turning one-million obsolete card catalog cards into works of art. Kristin Baum, a preservationist at the U-of-I, is overseeing the project called “cARTalog.” Baum says the three-by-five-inch white paper cards have typed reference information about a book on one side and are blank on the back, with a hole punched at the bottom. Baum says the cards “will be going anywhere that people want them. So far, I have distributed some as far as California as well as the East Coast, Boston. Whoever contacts us and is interested in using them for a project and just sharing with us what they’ve done with them, that’s where they’ll go.” As part of its 150th anniversary celebration, the U-of-I Libraries will distribute the old card catalog cards to people across Iowa and around the country to create a work of art on the card. Baum says poets have been requesting entire drawers of card to use in their classes as writing prompts for the students, so, not all of the cards will go into making a product but they are part of a process. She says the cards are being sent to school children, poets, writers, book artists and other artists. Baum says some of the people who want to share what they’ve made and send the cards back will have the opportunity to see the item on display or in an exhibit. Computer touch screens replaced the card catalogs. Baum says about five-million cards had been in use at the U-of-I Libraries. Most were sent to a paper recycler but about one-fifth were spared for this project. The big wooden cabinets that held the drawers of cards were sold. For more information, contact Baum at (319) 335-5503 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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