Calendar of tattooed librarians aims to raise money, change stereotype

Sharon Colvin, a teen librarian at the Chelmsford Public Library, is October in the new tattooed librarians calendar.

In some libraries the ink isn’t confined to the books or periodicals.

A new calendar put out by the Massachusetts Library Association features more than a dozen tattooed librarians posing to raise money and hopefully change a few stereotypes.

Sharon Colvin, chair of the Youth Services Section of the MLA, came up with the idea for the calendar as a way to raise money for the organization that supports librarians and libraries across Massachusetts.

“It’s getting people talking about libraries again,” she said. “Libraries have suffered a lot in the recession and towns are really struggling to keep them open.”

But, in addition to the fund raising, there are side effects to putting out a calendar that negates the stereotype of an older, uptight, constantly shushing librarian.

“We, as a group, are interested in improving our public image,” said Colvin who is the teen librarian at the Chelmsford Public Library and who appears in the calendar in October. “We’re a diverse and dynamic group of individuals and not at all the stereotyped image people have of librarians.”

The move was a way to get people talking, Colvin said, and it certainly has. The calendar has been featured in local newspapers, on radio news programs and Colvin said she’s been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

And Colvin is already seeing how the hype is leading to people checking out more than just the calendar.

“People have been coming in looking for the calendar and they say ‘wow, I’ve never been here before,’” she said of people visiting her library.

While the response has been mostly positive, Colvin said there has been some negative feedback online. But she said calendar’s purpose was to raise money and was done in good fun.

Inspiration from Texas

Colvin said she got the idea for the calendar from a similar projects in Texas.
Librarians from the Texas Library Association posed for “The Tattooed Ladies of the TLA” calendar in 2009.
The calendar helped raised money for libraries damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

For sale

Sixteen tattooed librarians posed for the 2013-14 calendar.
The librarians are from libraries from across the state including Andover, Chelmsford, Newton, Scituate, Springfield and Wellesley.
Calendars cost $21 and can be ordered at www.mla.memberlodge.org.

Slow growth

As technology begins to replace the printed word are librarians going the way of the typewriter?
*While electronic books and the Internet have replaced paperbacks and the reference section, there is still growth in the librarian sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
*Employment of librarians is expected to grow by 7 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations, according to government data.
*Despite slow job growth, there’s still hope for aspiring librarians. Prospects should improve later in the decade as older library workers retire and population growth generates openings.


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