Inked: Librarians Show Off Tattoos to Raise Library Awareness

The Rhode Island Library Association is getting people talking with its new 2014 calendar featuring librarians and their tats.

Want to get people talking about your industry? Try challenging a stereotype like the Rhode Island Library Association, which recently released a calendar of tattooed librarians.

“It was partially to help break down whatever remaining stereotypes people might have about librarians as little-old-lady sticks-in-the-mud who just don’t do anything,” said Emily Grace Mehrer, cochair of the RILA public relations committee, who put together the calendar . “We’re not saying all librarians have tattoos and all of us are so progressive and cool, but we’re just trying to show another side to the profession.”

Brendan Ryan, February

The 2014 “Tattooed Librarians of the Ocean State” calendar is also a fun way to raise awareness about libraries and librarians, Mehrer said: “It was something to do to try to get people talking about libraries again.”

And talk about it they have. RILA and its calendar have been mentioned on NPR, Huffington Post, and Flavorwire. Not to mention they’ve been retweeted by R.L. Stine—author of the popular Goosebumps children’s book series—and Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed.

“We want to celebrate the importance of libraries, and I think other people are on board as well,” Mehrer said. “It’s just a fun concept, and I think people want something fun to talk about.”

Melyssa Lentini, April

The calendar, which is available to order on RILA’s website, features librarians with a variety of tattoos, each matching a theme for one of the 12 months—a snowflake for December, for example, and a pair of ruby slippers for May, the month The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published.

The association also hopes the calendar will help defend the status of the tat—an often-scorned show of self-expression, Mehrer said.

“We’re trying to celebrate individuality and freedom of expression, since that’s one of the cornerstones of librarianship,” she said, “fighting censorship and making sure everyone has a chance to say what they want to say.”

(Emily Grace Mehrer/Rhode Island Library Association)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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