You can’t avoid the future. But if you work at, hang out in, or simply love the library, these cards can help you get ready for the inevitable. Or they just may remind you of strange library stories you’ve forgotten.
Introducing the Library Tarot. Based on the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, this set of 23+ Major Arcana cards brings classic tarot symbolism into the stacks.
For novices, basic three card readings can provide prompts to get you thinking about issues outside your usual patterns. What are you going through at the library? How did you get here? What might the future hold? (And what's the best way you can handle that?)
For those skilled in cartomancy, who can delve into the depths of the deck's symbolism, the cards may reveal much, much more.
The cards can also remind those of us who love to tell stories about the absolutely bizarre library situations that we've lived through, and about the myriad of peculiar stories we've been told. (See also: Unshelved and Library Comic)
Whether you believe tarot cards are part of an esoteric mystery, a practical way to think about how you'll handle the challenges your day, or a prompt to remind you about what's happened at your favorite branch, we hope you'll enjoy these cards as much as we do.
The Library Tarot deck:
A library-themed tarot deck of Major Arcana cards inspired by the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, created by writer Gene Ambaum (Library Comic, Barbarian Girl, Unshelved) and illustrated by artist Willow Payne (Unshelved Book Club, Barbarian Girl).
23 or more cards* (see stretch goals)
Each card measures 2.75” x 4.75”
Printed on 305gsm black core card stock or heavier, with a textured (linen) finish. (305gsm paper is as thick as a regular playing card. If we print a bunch of decks, we'll upgrade the paper.)
Packaged in a full-color, custom printed tuck box.
*While Rider-Waite-Smith deck contains only twenty-two cards, our deck will have at least 23. The Library Tarot has two versions of Card X: The Wheel of Fortune, and The Wheel of Misfortune. You can leave both in the deck, or choose the one that best fits the energy of the library you’re reading, your career, or the public space where you're sitting.
If stretch goals are met, we will design 5 or 11 additional cards with input from Kickstarter backers. These will pay homage to the best and most problematic library patrons, and will be added to each deck.
Please note: colors and designs shown in this campaign are not final.
All Kickstarter backers get an epub copy of The Illustrated Key to the Library Tarot by G. Ambaum, a book based on (and using a lot of) the text from the somewhat incomprehensible out-of-copyright* masterpiece by L. W. de Laurence, The Illustrated Key to the Tarot: The Veil of Divination (1916).
The Illustrated Key to the Library Tarot contains images of all 23 Major Arcana cards in the Library Tarot deck, as well as speculations about the cards' mysteries and many, many mind boggling sentences by L.W De Laurence that were simply too good to delete or alter. It's a fun mess that Gene unintentionally made while working on this deck. Apologies to De Laurence and his fans if any are offended.
*If it's not out of copyright where you live, we trust you not to download the book when you get the link.
- At $7500 we will add 5 patron cards to each deck. These will be designed with input from backers based on incidents they've lived and witnessed, and stories of their favorite (and least favorite) library patrons. Decks will now have 29 cards.
- At $17500 will add 6 more patron cards, designed with input from backers, to each deck. Decks will have 34 cards.
-- Final designs for the stretch goal cards will combine elements from backers' stories with Gene's and Willow's imaginations and, of course, with esoteric symbolism. These cards will be (c) Ambauminable LLC. --
Want more decks of cards?
If you want to purchase additional decks of tarot cards, please add $20 per deck to your Kickstarter pledge for two decks of cards (the Friendship Edition reward level). We'll add decks to your order and calculate actual shipping costs later, but they probably won't go up much, and in many cases they may not increase at all.
Want a lot of Library Tarot decks for your Friends of the Library shop, staff, or conference? Contact Gene.
A limited number of add-ons will be available when the post-Kickstarter surveys are sent out, including enamel pins and LEGO kits from previous Library Comic Kickstarter campaigns, plus a few of our T-shirts. And as usual we'll offer special discounts for Kickstarter backers. You will pay for add-ons later if you want them.
Want your reward shipped to a country that's not currently listed? Message Gene via Kickstarter and he'll add it.
Rewards and add-ons ship in bubble mailers or boxes via USPS First Class or Priority Mail, depending on the size and weight.
-- Questions? Wholesale inquiries? Just want to say hello? Message or contact Gene. --
April 30 -- campaign ends.
- Toast backers with a well-aged single malt whiskey.
- If stretch goals are met, solicit incident reports + comment cards from backers to inspire additional card designs featuring library patrons. We’ll need backers' input and stories ASAP so we can start designing the 5 - 11 extra cards. To be clear: we will not be asking for physical descriptions of your patrons, just stories of whatever they do that's noteworthy, kind, weird, or whatever.
by May 31
- Willow will illustrate the additional cards.
- Surveys will be sent to Kickstarter backers.
by June 15
- Finalize all card designs.
- Finalize tuck box design.
- Test print additional cards if necessary.
- Place final order for cards.
(next 8 ~ 16 weeks)
- Approve proofs from printer.
- Make adjustments as needed.
- Buy shipping supplies.
- Clear out space in our shipping center (aka Gene's garage).
- Finish editing / writing / mucking with The Illustrated Key to the Library Tarot ebook.
- Eagerly await delivery of the cards.
- Eat chalky Costco antacids by the handful.
sometime in Oct 2019 or sooner
- Send out tarot cards, ebooks, and add-on merchandise to Kickstarter backers.
Who we are:
We've also been working on a fantasy / science fiction graphic novel together, The Burning Blade of the Badlands, and we just finished Part 1. Read all 64 pages and then follow us to read Part II.
Risks and challenges
We have printed a test deck of 305gsm cards with a textured finish, and they look and feel great. We are currently making final adjustments to the art for the first 23 cards and printing a second test deck.
The timeline above is close to a worst case scenario. Gene has a record of fulfilling Kickstarter campaigns earlier than promised, and he's hoping to do that again.(Last time he drafted his daughter, and she's already willing to help.) Timing could be impacted by needing to make corrections after seeing proofs, and by things beyond our control: labor strikes, trade wars, a big earthquake in Seattle, damage to the cards in transit, caffeine shortages, and other unknowns.
We promise to be transparent about all issues affecting timing throughout the production and fulfillment process, and to keep backers informed every step of the way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)