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Elizabeth Skene
Elizabeth Skene

24 Awesome Librarian Tattoos

Elizabeth Skene
Elizabeth Skene

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.

2. Shhh

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.

16. Shhhhhh

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.

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15 Heartwarming Facts About Mister Rogers
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Though Mister Rogers' Neighborhood premiered 50 years ago, Fred Rogers remains an icon of kindness for the ages. An innovator of children’s television, his salt-of-the-earth demeanor and genuinely gentle nature taught a generation of kids the value of kindness. In celebration of the groundbreaking children's series' 50th anniversary, here are 15 things you might not have known about everyone’s favorite “neighbor.”

1. HE WAS BULLIED AS A CHILD.

According to Benjamin Wagner, who directed the 2010 documentary Mister Rogers & Me—and was, in fact, Rogers’s neighbor on Nantucket—Rogers was overweight and shy as a child, and often taunted by his classmates when he walked home from school. “I used to cry to myself when I was alone,” Rogers said. “And I would cry through my fingers and make up songs on the piano.” It was this experience that led Rogers to want to look below the surface of everyone he met to what he called the “essential invisible” within them.

2. HE WAS AN ORDAINED MINISTER.

Rogers was an ordained minister and, as such, a man of tremendous faith who preached tolerance wherever he went. When Amy Melder, a six-year-old Christian viewer, sent Rogers a drawing she made for him with a letter that promised “he was going to heaven,” Rogers wrote back to his young fan:

“You told me that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. It means a lot to me to know that. And, I appreciated the scripture verse that you sent. I am an ordained Presbyterian minister, and I want you to know that Jesus is important to me, too. I hope that God’s love and peace come through my work on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

3. HE RESPONDED TO ALL HIS FAN MAIL.

Responding to fan mail was part of Rogers’s very regimented daily routine, which began at 5 a.m. with a prayer and included time for studying, writing, making phone calls, swimming, weighing himself, and responding to every fan who had taken the time to reach out to him.

“He respected the kids who wrote [those letters],” Heather Arnet, an assistant on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2005. “He never thought about throwing out a drawing or letter. They were sacred."

According to Arnet, the fan mail he received wasn’t just a bunch of young kids gushing to their idol. Kids would tell Rogers about a pet or family member who died, or other issues with which they were grappling. “No child ever received a form letter from Mister Rogers," Arnet said, noting that he received between 50 and 100 letters per day.

4. ANIMALS LOVED HIM AS MUCH AS PEOPLE DID.

It wasn’t just kids and their parents who loved Mister Rogers. Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who understands 2000 English words and can also converse in American Sign Language, was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watcher, too. When Rogers visited her, she immediately gave him a hug—and took his shoes off.

5. HE WAS AN ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIAN.

Though Rogers began his education in the Ivy League, at Dartmouth, he transferred to Rollins College following his freshman year in order to pursue a degree in music (he graduated Magna cum laude). In addition to being a talented piano player, he was also a wonderful songwriter and wrote all the songs for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood—plus hundreds more.

6. HIS INTEREST IN TELEVISION WAS BORN OUT OF A DISDAIN FOR THE MEDIUM.

Rogers’s decision to enter into the television world wasn’t out of a passion for the medium—far from it. "When I first saw children's television, I thought it was perfectly horrible," Rogers told Pittsburgh Magazine. "And I thought there was some way of using this fabulous medium to be of nurture to those who would watch and listen."

7. KIDS WHO WATCHED MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD RETAINED MORE THAN THOSE WHO WATCHED SESAME STREET.

A Yale study pitted fans of Sesame Street against Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood watchers and found that kids who watched Mister Rogers tended to remember more of the story lines, and had a much higher “tolerance of delay,” meaning they were more patient.

8. ROGERS’S MOM KNIT ALL OF HIS SWEATERS.

If watching an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood gives you sweater envy, we’ve got bad news: You’d never be able to find his sweaters in a store. All of those comfy-looking cardigans were knitted by Fred’s mom, Nancy. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rogers explained how his mother would knit sweaters for all of her loved ones every year as Christmas gifts. “And so until she died, those zippered sweaters I wear on the Neighborhood were all made by my mother,” he explained.

9. HE WAS COLORBLIND.

Those brightly colored sweaters were a trademark of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but the colorblind host might not have always noticed. In a 2003 article, just a few days after his passing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that:

Among the forgotten details about Fred Rogers is that he was so colorblind he could not distinguish between tomato soup and pea soup.

He liked both, but at lunch one day 50 years ago, he asked his television partner Josie Carey to taste it for him and tell him which it was.

Why did he need her to do this, Carey asked him. Rogers liked both, so why not just dip in?

"If it's tomato soup, I'll put sugar in it," he told her.

10. HE WORE SNEAKERS AS A PRODUCTION CONSIDERATION.

According to Wagner, Rogers’s decision to change into sneakers for each episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was about production, not comfort. “His trademark sneakers were born when he found them to be quieter than his dress shoes as he moved about the set,” wrote Wagner.

11. MICHAEL KEATON GOT HIS START ON THE SHOW.

Oscar-nominated actor Michael Keaton's first job was as a stagehand on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, manning Picture, Picture, and appearing as Purple Panda.

12. ROGERS GAVE GEORGE ROMERO HIS FIRST PAYING GIG, TOO.

It's hard to imagine a gentle, soft-spoken, children's education advocate like Rogers sitting down to enjoy a gory, violent zombie movie like Dawn of the Dead, but it actually aligns perfectly with Rogers's brand of thoughtfulness. He checked out the horror flick to show his support for then-up-and-coming filmmaker George Romero, whose first paying job was with everyone's favorite neighbor.

“Fred was the first guy who trusted me enough to hire me to actually shoot film,” Romero said. As a young man just out of college, Romero honed his filmmaking skills making a series of short segments for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, creating a dozen or so titles such as “How Lightbulbs Are Made” and “Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy.” The zombie king, who passed away in 2017, considered the latter his first big production, shot in a working hospital: “I still joke that 'Mr. Rogers Gets a Tonsillectomy' is the scariest film I’ve ever made. What I really mean is that I was scared sh*tless while I was trying to pull it off.”

13. ROGERS HELPED SAVE PUBLIC TELEVISION.

In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million.

14. HE ALSO SAVED THE VCR.

Years later, Rogers also managed to convince the Supreme Court that using VCRs to record TV shows at home shouldn’t be considered a form of copyright infringement (which was the argument of some in this contentious debate). Rogers argued that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family. Again, he was convincing.

15. ONE OF HIS SWEATERS WAS DONATED TO THE SMITHSONIAN.

In 1984, Rogers donated one of his iconic sweaters to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

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Art
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.

1. AN EARTHQUAKE LED TO HIS DISTINCTIVE NOSE.

Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.

2. HE ALMOST BECAME A PIANIST.

Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.

3. HE HELPED CREATE A NATIONAL PARK.

If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.

4. HE WELCOMED COMMERCIAL ASSIGNMENTS.

While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.

5. HE AND GEORGIA O'KEEFFE WERE FRIENDS.

Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

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