When the Library Was a Tattoo Parlor

Inspired by the success of our “book for tat” Facebook advisory program, the Denver Public Library’s Friends Foundation experimented with something very new: a pop-up tattoo event in conjunction with a local business, Certified Tattoo Studio. And they chose the Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales branch, where I work, to be its site. Customers could choose a literary-themed tattoo from a set “flash sheet,” or get their favorite Dewey number. (An experienced librarian was in charge of double-checking to make sure no one got the wrong number. How embarrassing would that have been!)

The branch staff was excited and more than one got “inked” at this wildly successful event. What I didn’t anticipate was how many young families would be attending together!

I welcomed the opportunity to speak with customers who hadn’t been in the library before and help them engage with library materials and services. I talked to a mom with a baby on her hip, waiting to get a truffula tree tattoo--she was excited to get a storytime schedule. A dad reading to his two young daughters was going to get a Dr. Seuss fish. Another mom waiting for a truffula tree was looking for engaging beginning readers to supplement her homeschooling curriculum. I put a few in her hands and told her where to find more recommendations on our caregivers’ website (kids.denverlibrary.org).

It wasn’t all Dr. Seuss, of course. Many people were opting for simple “pile of books” or “flying books” tattoos, a fellow children’s librarian from another system was getting a public library icon, and one of our security clerks chose the Deathly Hallows sign.

To the disappointment of my personal children, I did not get “one of the kind that is sewn into your skin.” But I was intrigued and impressed by the parents who did! What a convincing way to show your kids that you value reading in general and children’s literature in particular than by having a literary memento permanently inked into your person.

But this very festive temporary logo tattoo is holding up surprisingly well.

What unusual events have brought young families into your library? Do you have a children’s literature tattoo to share with us? Hop on over to our Facebook page to discuss!

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