Library Card Design Contest

Stack of SJPL Library Cards, including the black card, the kids green card with Conroy the Cougar, and a yellow card that says, 'Your Design Here'.

Library Card
Design Contest

Congratulations to the winners of our first-ever Library Card Design Contest!

The following six designs were selected amongst hundreds of creative and diverse designs:

Shark reading Huckleberry Fin with a fishhook hooked on the book
Public Vote – Adult: "Hooked" by Victoria L.

Library card design with San José Public Library written in Braille
Judges Vote – Adult: "Untitled" by Jeffrey B.

Library card design with a line illustration of a robot reading.
Public Vote – Teens: "Don’t Stop Reading Like a Robot" by Iris L.

Library card design with a line drawing of a young woman reading a book. The young woman's brain looks like a green processor chip.
Judges Vote – Teens: "Processor" by Annika L.

Library card design with illustration of two people on the staring up at the stars while they sit on a spherical plot of green earth that is hatching from the pages of an open book floating on water.
Public Vote – Children: "Book of Magic" by Katelyn H.

Library card design with illustration of young person lying in the grass with a cat while they gaze up at the night sky full of aliens, rocketships planets, stars, and a constellation that says READ!
Judges Vote – Children: "Reading Under the Stars" by Iris M.

Branch libraries received a total of 544 designs and of those, 72 were considered as finalists in the categories of Children, Teens, and Adults. Over ten thousand public votes helped determine the Public Choice Award for each category. The Judges' Choice Award determined another three winners, one from each category.

We will be working to produce the new cards and will soon provide more information about the timeline for making them available to the public.  Again, thank you all for your support in helping make our first-ever Library Card Design Contest possible!

Award Reception

To thank you for your support, we'd like to extend an invitation to our special Public Reception on Saturday, September 10, 2016, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library where the winners and the finalists will all receive a certificate of recognition by San José Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Refreshments and snacks will be provided.


Selected winning designs will receive prizes according to the category in the following amounts. All prizes will be awarded as gift cards.

(up to age 12)
(ages 13-17*)
(18* and above)
Panel Favorite$100$250$500
Crowd Favorite$100$250$500

Selection Process & Judging

Selection Process

Each local San José Public Library will select a design in each category (children, teen, adult) from the submissions received at that library branch to move on to the finalist round. Entry into the different categories will be determined by the age of the applicant at the time of submission. Finalists will be selected at the staff’s discretion. If the submissions received in a category are not deemed suitable, the local library may choose to not select a finalist.


A panel of San José celebrity judges will select a design in each category from among the finalists to turn into a library card. In addition, the public will be able to vote from among the finalists, to select a crowd favorite in each category to turn into a library card. In the event that the crowd favorite is the same as the celebrity panel’s choice, a runner up will be selected.

The judges include the following:

  • Sam Liccardo
    Mayor, City of San José
  • Jill Bourne
    City Librarian, San José Public Library
  • Tracy Elliott
    LibraryDean, San José State University
  • Sal Pizarro
    Columnist, San Jose Mercury News
  • Gary Singh
    Columnist, The Metro Newspaper
  • Daniel Garcia
    The Cultivator of Content Magazine
  • Susan Krane
    Director, San Jose Museum of Art
  • Demone Carter
    Director, FutureArtsNow!

Social Media

Share your design or explore designs on social media using #408Creates:


Rules & How to Enter

  • Download a Contest Entry Packet (PDF, 345KB) or pick up a packet at your local library. Please print the packet one sided on letter size paper (8.5 x 11). You may recreate the template on your home computer, but you must keep the dimensions the same and include all the requested information. Create a drawing or design celebrating San José and/or literacy using the provided template.
  • Each submission must be the creative and original work of a single individual (no copies of cartoons or artwork created by other people).
  • Computer generated images are acceptable as long as they are your original work (no clip art).
  • The San José Public Library and the San José Office of Cultural Affairs reserves the right to reproduce your work.
  • Be sure to print and sign the Photo/Creative Works Release Form, included in the entry packet, and submit with your design. Include your Name, Age, Contact Information, and Library Branch on the Template Entry Form.
  • Entries must be submitted to your neighborhood San José Public Library location no later than Saturday, July 30, 2016, 6 PM. Only complete entries, including the Photo/Creative Works Release Form and design template will be reviewed.
  • Online submissions are not accepted.
  • There is a limit of one entry per contestant.
  • San José Public Library and City of San José Office of Culture Affairs employees are not eligible to participate.
  • Submissions not selected will be available for pick-up at branch libraries until September 17, 2016. Submissions not picked up will be recycled.


On the utility boxes, they don't let just anyone design them. it should have been the same for library cards, judging from many of the ones that made it to the final round. At least one was so bad they had to cheat to get the several thousand votes.

this looks really cool!

I hope the contest is open and not limited to kids. As a big city, we deserve a card that stands for pride in where we live.A cutesy kid- frieddly card just wont do it.Lets's reward hard work and creativity and not just an "everyone wins"philosophy.

i agree with Tuan... can we please have a modern looking design? so much of sjpl designs seem like they're from the early 00's.... it's embarrassing that this is Silicon Valley and everything looks so amateur...

designs look amateur again mostly. oh well, I guess we'll have to wait another 15 years

You sound like a grouchy salty naysayer. You may be taking life too serious. Enjoy some sun. :)

Card Contest

I like the design for the County archives blog. Can we use that one?

The comic sans and cat was just not a good look

the cat one I dont mind so much but some of the ones here are just plain hideous! But a lot of them will probably get votes because parents will be voting for their "special" kid and encouraging the entire extended family to do likewise

Is there a rubric in which applicants must follow? Or is it all up to the artists? thanks!

The entry form has a template where participants can include their design that will have to do with the City of San José and/or literacy. Templates can be picked up at any SJPL branch or downloaded from Please print the design template one sided on letter size paper (8.5x11). You may recreate the template on your home computer, but you must keep the dimensions the same and include all the requested information.

Hi Shirley, Here's the a link to the design template form

Why is the prize amount different for different ages? All winners should receive the same amount.

I think it's because adults put in much more time and effort into their work. Like 10+ hours. I'm not saying children aren't making effort, but I think it's fair that adult's category has a higher cash prize than children's.

I agree. Some of the ones by kids are really ugly.Sorry, but they are.

Is there any writing is required on the space for designing?

Hi! Writing is not required.

Are we supposed to incorporate the name of the library or any text into the design ? Or will that be done afterwards on your end ? Thanks

Hi Veronica, It's not required to incorporate the name of the library into the design.

I think its a great idea to motivate kids to design a library card and do this fun activity

Does up to 12 include 12? Also can i participate in the teen contest because i'm going to 8th grade and going to turn 13 this year in september? Please reply quick want to participate in this fun activity:)!

Hi! Yes, Up to 12 includes 12. You will need to enter in the children's category. Good luck :)

I was asking for my little brother who is turning 13 in September, because he wanted to participate in the teen contest. He likes to draw more teen level than childrens thats why I was asking for him he wants to participate in the teens because he considers himself fun really hope he can participate in the teen competition!

Sounds like your brother is a talented artist. Since his birthday is after the contest is over, he does not qualify for the teen category. He will need to enter the children's category. Good luck :)

Could the design be drawn on an app?

Could you submit your design online?

No, it says "Online submissions are not accepted". But I believe you can still design digitally and print it out on the template given

Yes, you can design digitally.

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