24 Awesome Librarian Tattoos
By Jill Harness
1. Card Catalog Sleeve
Elizabeth Skene has what might be the most awesomely complete librarian sleeve around, featuring a skull sitting on top of a book, with a graduation cap next to a card catalog with a banner reading “Peace and Knowledge.” There is also an open book with pages coming out and turning into birds. Let there be no doubt here: Elizabeth loves libraries. Tattoo by Frank William of the Chicago Tattoo Company.
The folks behind 8 Bit Library, a librarian blog, wanted to encourage librarians to show their pride in their work, and thus they started Project Brand Yourself A Librarian. A lot of people joined in, including Lauren Comito, who got this lovely silhouette of a woman shushing noisy patrons.
While it seems like the icon merely represents the stereotypical librarian, it actually has far more meaning to Ms. Comito. After discovering that big budget cuts in her library system would mean she would be laid off, she created the image as a protest that library supporters won’t be silenced in the fight to keep their local branches open. She made hundreds of tees and organized a protest that resulted in most of the branch’s funding being restored. After that, it seemed only fitting to get the icon tattooed on her body. If you like the image, you can buy one of the shirts bearing the icon, which will also help support the fight to keep NYC public libraries open for years to come.
3. Super Librarian
Tattooed Librarians and Archivists reader Michelle is a high school librarian who wanted to get something to represent her career. She chose a superhero librarian and based the design on the old-school DC character Mary Marvel and had it inked by Chris Cockrill of Avalon II Tattoo. I think the world could use a few more super librarians, don’t you?
4. Library Icon
Flickr user infowidget also participated in Project Brand Yourself a Librarian by getting the classic library symbol tattooed on her inner wrist.
5. The Book Tree
Here’s another “Brand Yourself” participant, this time tattooed by Anne Marsh of Nemesis Tattoo. Flickr user bookishJulia got the library icon underneath the roots of a tree that has sprung from the pages of a book.
6. Dewey Decimal Number
Flickr user Cardamom is so proud of her role as a children’s librarian that she got the Dewey Decimal number for books on operating libraries for children. Of course, only those well-versed in the decimal system numbers will actually get that reference without having to look it up.
7. Harry Potter Dewey Decimal Number
Great White Snark reader Becca is a full-time librarian who loves Harry Potter. How much does she love the series? Enough to get its Dewey Decimal number tattooed across her back in the iconic font, colored Slytherin green.
8. Egyptian Goddess
Just looking at this piece you’ll recognize it as a librarian tattoo, but what makes LiveJournal user Oh Chris’ tattoo by Kristen at Artisanal Tattoo really great are how many details he has hidden inside the design. For example, the hieroglyphics are phonetic transliterations for the names of his family members and the two open books have images symbolizing his favorite childhood books – The BFG and Jabberwock.
9. Librarian Skull
Prefer your ink a little more hardcore than most of these librarian tattoos? Then, you’ll probably approve of Jason Puckett’s tattoo by Ron Hendon of Midnight Iguana Tattooing that features a bespectacled skull with “crossbooks” and a “librarian” banner.
10. Voodoo Reader
Jim McClusky is a librarian in Washington, so obviously he thinks reading is pretty darn important, even if you’re only a poor little voodoo doll. Artwork by Mary J. Hoffman, tattoo by Curtis James of Anchor Tattoo.
11. Tarot Card
Flickr user whatnot’s friend Diane got this great librarian tarot card featuring a bee-keeping skeleton. I don’t know what makes this skeleton a librarian, but I definitely love the artwork.
12. Where the Wild Children Are
Heather Warren of the Philadelphia Free Library has this amazing children’s literary sleeve featuring characters from famous titles such as Where the Wild Things Are, The Little Prince, Matilda, The Giving Tree, and more. Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing spotted her work, done by Bird of the Black Vulture Gallery, and was kind enough to share it with the net in general.
13 and 14. Beautiful Book Goodness
Reader Melissa Deemer shared her ink with other fans of our At the Libraries column.
As you can see, both her library shield and her open book pieces are absolutely stunning. She also has a delightful “Dewey Ale” design featuring a stein bearing the Dewey digits for “beverage technology.”
15. There’s Not Much More to Life Than Books
Anyone who reads profusely has had someone, at some point, tell them “there’s more to life than books”—but, as any fan of The Smiths can tell you, “not much more.” This wonderful Smiths-inspired design was sent to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists by a library technician and MLIS student who works at a Bay Area high school and got the piece as a 31st birthday present. The artwork was done by Dan Gilsdorf at Tattoo 13 in Oakland.
If there’s one thing everyone has heard from a librarian at one point or another in their childhoods, it’s “shhh.” And while some librarians try to discredit this stereotype, others embrace it—including this youth services supervisor who works in a New Jersey public library. This cute piece, submitted to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists, was done at Tattooville in Neptune, New Jersey.
17. The Dewey Cutter
Reader Kati Donaghy shared this great Dewey tattoo with us in the comments of our first librarian tattoos article, calling it her “spine label.” She pointed out that her choice of numbers even includes a Cutter number—a code that allows librarians to arrange books alphabetically by the author’s last name. That’s important because it means she was not only able to include a Dewey number for “Biography in the library's role in culture,” but she was also able to include her own Cutter number that means “DonK.”
18. A Naughty Librarian
A Tattooed Librarians and Archivists reader submitted this great pinup tattoo that she got to celebrate earning her Masters of Library and Information Science. It seems particularly fitting that the pinup librarian also has tattoos.
19. Public Library Pride
Tattooed Librarians and Archivists reader Amy is a librarian at a small library in the Florida Panhandle. As you can tell, she’s a big fan of public libraries—especially the one where she works.
20. Where the Reading Begins
One librarian submitted this great Shel Silverstein tattoo to the Tattoo Lit Tumblr, which is dedicated exclusively to literary tattoos (though most of the contributors are not librarians). The site is operated by the group who put together the book The Word Made Flesh, which I highly suggest checking out if you just can’t get enough great pics of literary tattoos.
21. Read or Die
Another submitter to the Tattoo Lit Tumblr shared this old school style tattoo depicting a skull atop a pile of books. The tattoo was a celebration of that person’s educational choice as he or she is a library science student specializing in rare books and manuscripts.
22. Much Ado About Books
A Master of Library Science with a concentration in Archives Management sent this Much Ado About Nothing quote tattoo into Tattooed Librarians and Archivists. She got the tattoo from Moose Tattoo and Piercings of Vermont and chose the line because she wrote her undergraduate thesis on the play.
23. Alphabetical Awesome
Reader Elizabeth Wisker writes, “I have a degree in library and information science. Here's my alphabet tattoo... pretty sure I’ll love it when I’m 95, and here's hoping I live that long.”
24. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye
How do you say goodbye when you leave your old job? Even if you have only positive memories of the position, chances are you probably still won’t get the logo of your old company tattooed on you, but for librarian Dan Lee, permanently inking the Broome Public Library’s logo into his skin was the perfect way to end that chapter of his life.
Special thanks to Tattooed Librarians and Archivists, which features all sorts of fantastic ink from librarians, archivists, curators and similarly employed individuals. While we try to focus on librarian tattoos based on the careers of a librarian, the site provides a great look into all types of tattoos people in the industry choose to get.