Mini Library Card

I go to the library a lot. I hate spending money on books since I read quickly, and then I don’t clutter the house with even more books than I already have.

The thing is, I often forget my library card, which makes checking out the books tricky. I move things from purse to pocket to wallet. However, I never leave the house without my keys, so I came up with the idea to make a little keyring library card.

I figured out the encoding used for the library card bar code (CodaBar) and then used an online bar code generator to create a PNG. This I printed and then mounted first to black card stock and then to some plastic from an empty 2.5 gallon water container, wrapped it in tape to laminate, and then punched a hole through all the layers.


Here you see it with my keys along with the mini Ralphs card which gave me the inspiration. It probably won’t pass muster with the librarians, but I don’t think the self-checkout machines will mind. I have a book on hold that I need to go pick up so I will go get it and test my new card!


The card worked! When using it, I realized the placement of the hole is awkward for using with the self-checkout machine since it wants the bar code to be placed under the scanner a certain way. The card was also a little bigger than I’d have liked, so behold Version 2, which is 40% smaller, has more space around it, and has the hole on the opposite side.


Contrasted with Version 2 on top, Version 1 looks ungainly and not so nice. But, as Daniel said, that is quick prototyping for you. I made a workable card quickly, tested, and made another iteration, which is better than the first.

On a side note, the plastic I used is roughly 1mm thick and it was too much for my hole punch to handle. The punch on Version 1 was clean and sharp but you can see in the photo above the punch on Version 2 is a little uneven: it didn’t cut all the way through and I had to fiddle with it a bit. My hole punch is pretty much useless now as it can’t punch paper anymore either. I would recommend a metal punch instead. I am reading a craft book now that recommends a metal punch from Harbor Freight Tools, which has interchangeable sizes and looks like a pretty good deal. Plus then I can punch metal too!

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