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Tattooed Librarians are Diverse

A kind read sent this on wondering what my response would be. It’s easy enough to report my initial response: Yuck! Apparently I’m the last person in the country who finds extensive and very visible tattooing indecorous to the point of repulsion, and I’m not impressed by a tattooed librarian. And the only thing less impressive than a tattooed librarian is an entire calendar full of them. Go ahead, call me a prude. It wouldn’t be the worst thing you’ve ever called me.

I have to admit I was mesmerized by the web page, though. Surprise and disgust turned into bafflement and disbelief. There just seems to be so much wrong with this entire idea. I’m working under the assumption that in addition to raising money, the calendar also aims to dispel librarian stereotypes. It doesn’t say this outright, but it does seem to be one intention.

That in itself is enough to annoy me. What’s so bad about librarian stereotypes? In some cases it’s absolutely true. When I remove my glasses and shake the bun from my hair, I am a sex goddess, and a tattoo would only ruin the effect. How many professions attract sexual fetishists, after all. It’s not like people conjure up images of engineers and say, "when he removed those coke-bottle glasses and that pocket protector, he was like a god!"

But back to the calendar. Let’s begin with the title: "The Tattooed Ladies of TLA." Why are there no tattooed men of TLA? There must be some male librarians down in Texas, and it being Texas and all surely plenty of them have tattoos. And why is it "ladies" instead of "women"? I hate that. Maybe they want to associate themselves with painted ladies (the houses, not the hussies), but then they’d need some librarians as big as houses. Those shouldn’t be too hard to find. The advertisement says, "Libraries thrive on and promote diversity and freedom of expression. The Tattooed Ladies ofTLA calendar is a testament to both." Uh huh. Having no men and calling the librarians "ladies" seems to me to promote sexist stereotypes more than diversity. But that’s just me.

It’s that "promoting diversity" baloney that makes me think this is one of those attempts to fight librarian stereotypes. These librarians aren’t prim and proper! They won’t shush you! They’re diverse! This isn’t just a big group of mostly white women. This is a big group of mostly white women with tattoos! However, they are fighting the stereotype of diversity propaganda. When institutions want to promote how diverse they are, they usually have pictures with at least some token African-American representation. University publicity sites love to have photos showing the harmony of ebony and ivory on their campuses. The closest this page comes is one Latina. Stereotypical diversity propaganda shows many people of many colors, but the tattooed ladies calendar dispels that stereotype by proclaiming how diverse a bunch of white, female librarians are.

They’re certainly not fighting the stereotype of librarians as behind the times, though. I mean, seriously, a print calendar? Who uses those things anymore? They say "forget those predictable calendars with cute puppies and nature photographs," but who would buy print calendars with cute puppies on them anyway? If the answer is librarians, I don’t want to know, because it would only depress me.

This is a fundraiser for the TLA Library Disaster Relief Fund, and I’m sure they need the money. Maybe librarians who look like biker chicks are a hot commodity down in Texas, and they know their audience. Obviously I’m out of their demographic, though, because I’d gladly pay $20 not to have to look at any tattooed librarians. Fortunately, I can usually do that for free.

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Comments

  1. LibraryStudent says:

    I also would pay $20 not to have to see that calendar. I like the stereotype (uptight book guardian/coquettish sex goddess) and sometimes think that’s part of the attraction to the profession. But that’s just it — a profession. I’m curious to know how this publication will affect the professionalism of those librarians who choose to be in it. I know I might have a hard time shaking a slightly disturbing image of one of these slightly portly inked-women as they attempt to develop a fan base similar to that of the Suicide Girls out of my head when I go to their library in search of a book or other information. While at first glance it sounds like a fun idea, on the whole it could be more damaging than not.

  2. Jane says:

    Is this Laura Bush’s idea? I suspected she might step out and cause some trouble once GW got out of the White House.

  3. poking holes in your theory says:

    “How many professions attract sexual fetishists, after all.”

    Let’s see nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officer…

  4. Midge says:

    The webpage looks like a bad porn site and the calendar layout doesn’t seem to help. Could they not have made it look a little more professional?

  5. AL=RK says:

    Was it something we said?

    I thought professional journalists didn’t mind comments!

  6. Whiner says:

    I’m sorry … just not all that attractive. With or without the tattoos, but especially with.

  7. anonymous says:

    “And why is it “ladies” instead of “women”? I hate that.”

    Maybe because of the song “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”?

    Lydia, oh Lydia, you encyclopiddia, Oh Lydia the Queen of Tattoo.
    On her back is the Battle of Waterloo.
    Beside it the wreck of the Hesperus, too.
    And proudly above waves the Red, White, and Blue,
    You can learn a lot from Lydia.

  8. Up and coming librarian says:

    I think this is one of the most creative and just plain cool ideas ever. I love the irony.

  9. Library Lady says:

    I like it when librarians buck the stereotype. I hate it whenever someone tells me, “You don’t look like a librarian” because I don’t know if I should take it as a personal compliment or professional insult. I say as long as these women aren’t wearing cat themed sweaters and have helmety-hobbit-like hairdos then let them get their library freak on and have their admirerers buy the silly calendar.

  10. Turgid says:

    Oh yuck, that’s grotesque!

    Librarians as a group are quite the opposite of diverse, at least in any serious way. They’re largely plump, white, humorless, and predictable in their political views.

    Diverse indeed.

  11. anonymous says:

    I like highly visible, unconcealable tattoos. It helps me determine who has poor impulse control and trouble planning for the future.

  12. Mr. Tadakichi says:

    “…a print calendar? Who uses those things anymore?”
    Um, I do. At home, at both of my jobs…multiple copies, in fact. You can only scribble appointments on a computer screen so many times before your boss yells at you. And I find the idea charming. Sexist, yes, and not so sexy, but charming anyway.
    But you want a real fund-raising library calendar? Get 12 artists together and do a “what do you thing the Annoyed Librarian really looks like?” calendar. Glasses, bun, and martini mandatory.

  13. dork says:

    Oooh, Gretchen! But what’s up with that purple feathery bikini?

    ps
    I’m not big on tattoos.

  14. Captain Spaulding says:

    My life was wrapped around the circus.
    Her name was Lydia.
    I met her at the world’s fair in 1900,
    marked down from 1940.

    Ah, Lydia.
    She was the most glorious creature
    Under the su-un.
    Guiess. DuBarry. Garbo.
    Rolled into one.

    Oooooooh
    Lydia oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia,
    Lydia, the Tattooed Lady.
    She has eyes that folks adore so,
    And a torso even more so.

    Lydia oh Lydia, that encyclopidia,
    Oh Lydia the Queen of Tattoo.
    On her back is the Battle of Waterloo.
    Beside it the wreck of the Hesperus, too.
    And proudly above waves the Red, White, and Blue,
    You can learn a lot from Lydia.

    When her robe is unfurled, she will show you the world,
    If you step up and tell her where.
    For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paris,
    Or Washington crossing the Delaware.

    Oh Lydia oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia,
    Oh Lydia the Tattooed Lady
    When her muscles start relaxin’,
    Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson

    Lydia oh Lydia, that encyclopidia,
    oh Lydia the queen of them all!
    For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
    With a view of Niagara that nobody has.
    And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.
    You can learn a lot from Lydia.

    Come along and see Buff’lo Bill with his lasso.
    Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.
    Here is Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon.
    Here’s Godiva but with her pajamas on.

    Here is Grover Whalen unveilin’ the Trilon.
    Over on the West Coast we have Treaure Island.
    Here’s Najinsky a-doin’ the rhumba.
    Here’s her social security numba.

    Oh Lydia, oh Lydia that encyclopidia,
    Oh Lydia the champ of them all.
    She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
    The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
    And now the old boy’s in command of the fleet,
    For he went and married Lydia.

  15. anonymous says:

    I am a non-tattooed Texas librarian who also does not appreciate the calendar. They were looking for a fun way to raise money for a good cause. I really was rather put off by the entire idea when I first heard about it, and am a little disgusted by the resulting calendar. I also did not purchase the previous calendar — “Men of Texas Libraries” advertised as “a celebration of the humor and complexity of that precious natural resource – men in library land.” It gets hot here in Texas. I just think the 100+ degree heat has fried some brains. Or else some really smart people just got bored and wanted to have some fun. Got to admit it, though — it got some attention.

  16. ChickenLittle says:

    The Latina chick librarian in the top middle row is HOT!! With or without the tattoo! Any straight male librarian would be lucky to have her around! The rest all look pretty standard!

  17. LS says:

    “Why are there no tattooed men of TLA?”

    Search for “men of TLA”. They did a calendar the year before.

  18. NiYut says:

    I’m a tattooed librarian in Nebraska and I hate the calendar.

  19. MT says:

    Librarians Librarians…lets be nice. Now I am not your stereo typical librarian myself and yea I have a tattoo. Do I show my tattoo off? No but if someone told me hey we have an idea, if you show us your tattoo and let us take a picture we might be able to save another librarian’s job, get funding that we lost from budget cuts or heck give some well deserving clerks a raise. Id do it in a heart beat and dare someone to challenge my professionalism. My Gosh if you look most of the ladies have tattoos that can be covered. I am inspired by the fact these women had the courage to do this.

  20. Who cares? says:

    No one outside the library profession follows any of this stuff. Bucking stereotypes or not, it doesn’t matter because librarians are the only ones who will notice or care.

  21. Coppertop says:

    I’m thinking that one of those females looks like she could have been on last year’s men of Texas calendar. Cheap shot I know.

  22. end stereotypes says:

    Anything to end the stereotype of librarians. Please. Good for them for fundraising!

  23. KT says:

    Were there no real news stories to comment on today?
    Get over it. At least they aren’t hiding behind a lame cat icon making snarky comments.

  24. JR says:

    Lighten up:) Any idea that can help the library is wonderful!

  25. AL says:

    Yes, there were no real news stories to comment on today. That’s why you’re spending time commenting on this blog. Thanks for reading!

  26. anonymous says:

    The real news is Library Journal is up for sale, and who knows, perhaps the AL will have to get a tatoo to help sweeten the deal. I wonder if AL read all the fine print in her contract?

  27. Seriously? says:

    You’re a librarian…how about freedom of expression? I can’t believe how many of you are hating on them and tattoos. Do you really think this does anything to the image of librarians? Grow up and stop bashing people for wanting express themselves and raise a little money for a good cause.

  28. tattoed husband/wife librarian couple in says:

    “…in addition to raising money, the calendar also aims to dispel librarian stereotypes. It doesn’t say this outright, but it does seem to be one intention.”

    in addition to being presumptuous, this blog also seems to be poorly researched. It doesn’t say this outright, but it does seem to be one intention. How about some fact checking?

    As for why it should be “Tattooed Ladies of TLA” and not “Tattooed Women…” is because of the alliteration. Duh.

    I also find it in poor taste that some commenters chose to disparage the physical appearances of the women. It took some confidence on their part to put themselves out there. The blog mentions lack of racial diversity as a shortcoming. Should all people pictured in calendars necessarily be thin? How would that be for diversity?

  29. f8hrn says:

    Just a pet peeve, but you can’t hate On someone. You can hate someone but not on them. Well, I guess you could but it would be weird.

  30. f8hrn says:

    Which reminds me — I was taking a tour of my daughter’s high school last night (she’s in 9th grade) which supposedly stresses academics and the honor student giving the tour used the word whatever in every sentence. Oh well, whatever.

  31. TruTexan says:

    I’m the one who brought this item to AL’s attention (I’m assuming…there may have been someone before me).

    I too am a librarian and I have a tat. A “tramp stamp” to be exact but it is something I reserve to only be shown at biker rallies. Somewhere that the odds of someone knowing me while I’m displaying my wilder side is remote. When I heard they were looking for calendar girls, I wouldn’t think of it. It is egregious unprofessionalism.
    ~~ Cybil

  32. TruTexan says:

    I’m the one who brought this item to AL’s attention (I’m assuming…there may have been someone before me).

    I too am a librarian and I have a tat. A “tramp stamp” to be exact but it is something I reserve to only be shown at biker rallies. Somewhere that the odds of someone knowing me while I’m displaying my wilder side is remote. When I heard they were looking for calendar girls, I wouldn’t think of it. It is egregious unprofessionalism.
    ~~ Cybil

  33. AngelaB says:

    This is stupid. I have a tattoo, but I don’t feel the need to show it off. Personally, I prefer to keep things professional at my job. I don’t need to look “cool” or “hip.” I think it is degrading that some librarians think they have to be. It’s just a job.

  34. KT says:

    You’re welcome! And for the record, I read lots of library blogs and rarely comment, but when a corporate librarian eviscerates a public library’s fundraising efforts I find the need to comment.

  35. JR says:

    I would like to thank tattooed husband/wife librarian couple who mentioned the inappropriate comments about the women’s appearance.

  36. pi says:

    Texas is the reason….

  37. anonymous says:

    I am a tattooed male librarian from Texas. I perhaps entered the profession to be close to the object of some (latent) librarian fetish, or perhaps not. I can say without doubt, however, that any inherent sexiness female librarians seem to hold for me took a great blow reading these comments. About the odd bikini, the “plump” figures, the “unprofessionalism”–ugh. Nothing is less attractive than this sort of uptight, rigid joylessness. Give me a fat closet biker librarian who knows how to smile any day.

  38. jane says:

    The Latina chick librarian in the top middle row is HOT!!–Agreed. She is stunning.

    Tattooed male librarian has a point. Most of the women I work with are “rigid, joyless” types. They often complain about female student workers who wear the latest styles which are often revealing. Who cares? They are STUDENTS and most have the bod for it.

    I am a middle-aged female, BTW.

  39. anonymous says:

    What about the librarians who are tired of getting hit on by patrons at the desk? Might this calendar just reinforce that type of patron behavior?

  40. get a life says:

    “egregious unprofessionalism”?? It’s not like they made a porno. Wow, you are uptight.

  41. TwoQatz says:

    Jane, we’ve got the opposite problem in my library. The men are the stodgiest and most humorless among our group. They can suck the joy out just about everything. That one of our youngest is so “rule-bound” and uptight amazes me. Youth can be so wasted on the young.

  42. Ms. June 2010 says:

    Hello DL – I’m the creative genius behind the Tattooed Ladies of TLA – and yes it was pure genius! Just spell our association’s name right correctly when you make out your check in to support Disaster Relief. The title is alliterative and a homage to Groucho. So get a life DL and find a sense of humor!

    Marion the Tattooed Librarian

    Oooooooh

    Marion oh Marion, say have you met Marion,

    Marion, the Tattooed Librarian.
    She has eyes that folks adore so,

    And her re-search skills ev-en more so.

    Marion oh Marion, that sen-sa-tional librarian,

    Oh Marion the Queen of Tattoo.

    On her back is the Battle of the Alamo.

    Beside it the State Cap-i-tol at night all a-glow.
    And proudly above is San Ja-cien-to!

    You can learn a lot from Marion.
    La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

    When her robe is unfurled, she will show you the world,

    If you step up and tell her where.

    For a dime you can see all of Waxahachie,
    Or Jim Bowie fighting a grizzly bear!
    La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

    Oh Marion, oh Marion, say have you met Marion,

    Oh Marion the Tattooed Librarian

    When she puts her hands on her pel-vis,

    Her hips gyrate as she dreams of El-vis!
    Marion oh Marion, that charming librarian,

    Oh Marion the queen of them all!

    For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,

    With a view of Dallas that nobody has

    And just when she twirls you can’t miss her pizzazz.

    You can learn a lot from Marion.
    La la,la, la la la, la la la,

    Come along and see Pecos Bill with his lasso.
    Next to Ann Richards dancing with Groucho.
    Here is Jack Kerouac exploring the Sabine.
    And Waylon ‘n’ Willie performing at Gruene.
    La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

    Here is Kinky’s dachshund attackin’ a python
    While on her Gulf Coast we have Galveston Islund.
    Here’s Kay Bailey a-doin’ the rhumba.
    Here’s Marion’s telephone numba.
    {whistles}La la la, la la la, la la la, la la la

    Oh Marion, oh Marion that treasured librarian,
    Oh Marion the champ of them all.
    She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
    The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
    And now the old boy’s in command of the fleet,
    For he went and married Marion.
    I said Marion
    {He said Marion}
    They said Marion
    {We said Marion}
    La La!

  43. Ms. June 2010 says:

    Dear AL, Please forgive my use of the initialism DL without explanation in my previous post. I always think of you as DL – That “Dear Librarian” rather than merely the Annoying Librarian! You’ve frequently brought joy into my humdrum life, so remember Dear Librarian your postings haven’t been in vain for nothing! And in this instance you’ve generated great interest in our Disaster Relief fundraiser and the Calendars are flying off the shelves. Just go to TLA website to place your own order and I would be happy autograph June 2010 and raise my martini glass in your honor. Our operators are standing by!

  44. SideLined says:

    In response to “anonymous commented: I like highly visible, unconcealable tattoos. It helps me determine who has poor impulse control and trouble planning for the future”, I just have to say that is one of the best one-liners I’ve heard in a while.

  45. Techserving You says:

    I guess the comment I posted when this blog entry was first up was deleted. The thrust of my original comment, which I think was better-written the first time, was this: It seems that whenever librarians write about/act on changing the ‘stereotype,’ (or, for that matter, whenever some real news organization, such as the NY Times, reports on this) they simply replace one stereotype with another. (Yes, the NY Times actually wrote an article about ‘hipster librarians.’) It’s the hipster/indie librarian stereotype which most people try to advance, and to me, this is just as annoying as the traditional stereotype. I have no interest in being some thriftshop-clothes-wearing, granny glasses (in a cool way)-wearing, tattooed indie ‘hipster.’ If anything, we should be trying to let people know that the ‘profession’ includes the same variety of people that any other field includes. (I think it does, just not with the same distribution of types… lets face it, the traditional stereotype exists because there is much truth to it.) I am in my early-thirties, have spent my whole adult life in major cities, think I’m pretty cool, and don’t fit the traditional librarian stereotype. I’m pretty normal, not uptight and rules-obsessed, not obsessed with order although I work in tech. svs., etc.. I don’t lean towards any extreme. I wear clothes from J.Crew, Banana Republic, L.L. Bean, as well as non-preppy stores. I’m just a normal person who happens to be a librarian. There are lots of us in this field, though we may not be as visible as some other types. Why do we want to trade one freaky stereotype for another? (No offense to people with tattoos… I’m going beyond this calendar now, since I see this new stereotype come up time and again.)

  46. TLA Supporter says:

    These ladies are just trying to raise some money. It seems that most of the people commenting on this blog are librarians, so they should understand the difficulty of this. Sometimes fund raising is a messy, wild affair. Publicity goes to those who break outside the mold, and nothing is more important to fund raising than publicity. Give the TLA a break for daring to think outside the box.

  47. Sherryw says:

    *sigh*

    “No good deed goes unpunished”

  48. Jessica says:

    Well, it’s good to know that fat-hate, tat-hate, and general misogyny are acceptable in library land. Some of the comments here are pathetic. If I didn’t love being a librarian, I’d take my fat, tattooed self to another profession – really, people, get a grip.