Reader Response Requested: The Tattooed Librarian Part III

This is part of the Topical Series: Interviewing while Tattooed.
I did a last minute call asking for people who Interview While Tattooed to get in touch with me.  I asked:

How tattooed are you? What types of libraries have you interviewed at? Did you cover your tattoos?
April Tattoo 1I have three tattoos. two of which are easily covered by normal work clothing. The third is a small tattoo on my inner wrist. I do not cover that one up (and I am going to be getting more tattoos soon).
April Tattoo 2
On library type: Law and Academic.
I am currently a Legal Librarian at a Law Firm in Los Angeles.
On covering tattoos: Not the wrist one. The other ones I do most of the time. I cover them because normal clothing covers them, not because the firm does not allow the exposure of tattoos.
– April, a Legal Librarian, Los Angeles, California
Amanda 1
I have tattoos on the inside of both wrists, and a large tattoo (the start of a half-sleeve) on my upper right arm.
Amanda Tattoo 2
I have interviewed and worked in public libraries.
On covering tattoos: I did not intentionally cover my tattoos, although long sleeves usually cover my larger tattoo. However the wrist tattoos are visible and I’m sure did not go unnoticed. My thinking was that if I covered the tattoos for my interview, I may have to cover them for my job and that wasn’t something I was willing to do. If the tattoos were going to be a dealbreaker, then it was better to know sooner rather than later.
Amanda Viana, Information Services Librarian (and as of July 1, Assistant Director), Norton Public Library in Norton, MA; Head Editor of INALJ MA
Claire tattoo 1I have two fairly large pieces, one on my back and one on my upper right arm. 
Claire tattoo 2
So far, I’ve interviewed at special libraries.
On covering tattoos: Yes, but not necessarily purposefully. The piece on my back is covered most of the time by clothing anyway, and I usually wear a suit to interviews, which covers the tattoo on my arm. That being said, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to show them off at an interview.
-Claire Schmieder, Head Editor, INALJ New Jersey
Aliqae2I would consider myself to be heavily tattooed. That is, I have tattoos on my lower and upper arms, chest, and legs. To fully cover them all, I would have to wear a long-sleeved, crewneck shirt and long pants.
I have interviewed at public, academic, and special libraries, as well as archives.
On covering tattoos:  Yes. Always. I have a wrist tattoo that is difficult to cover, but I wear a bracelet or a watch when interviewing. I don’t worry about tattoos peeking out. I don’t hide that I have them on social media or at conferences. I consider my tattoos part of my personal life, much like my family or my hobbies, so I prefer to de-emphasize their presence in interviews (and on the job, if necessary) in order to focus on communicating my skills, experience, and ideas.

 – Aliqae Geraci, ILR Research Librarian, Martin P. Catherwood Library, ILR School, Cornell University

Amy Tattoo1 I have a half sleeve on my let arm and a few more medium-sized tattoos on the lower half of that arm. I have a large dewey call number tattooed on my left clavicle/shoulder and another medium sized tattoo on my right forearm. Most of the rest of my ink is on my back, so that wouldn’t really be visible either way.
I have really only interviewed at academic libraries (and honestly, they were both fine art focused, if that makes a difference).
I wore a suit to those interviews, so yes, my tattoos were covered. I have more recently been worried about my lip piercing and have considered taking it out for interviews.
Other thoughts: I have much more work planned, but I’m waiting to get hired into that precious first position. I realize I may not be as tattooed as others, sometimes I feel like I blend in at an art school library, but otherwise, I worry I stick out like a sore thumb.
– Amy Wainwright, Access Services Assistant, Columbia College Chicago

I have six tattoos: three on my left forearm down to my wrist, two on my back, and one on my hip.The arm tatts are flowers, names, and vines honoring my family. The back tatts are a largish cat and moon on my left and right shoulder blades, respectively. The one on my hip is a coffee mug with a kitten pattern on it. I’m planning to have two more tattoos done on my left upper arm in the immediate future, which would bring me up to a full sleeve.

I have only interviewed for professional work at academic libraries. That is my area of interest; it took me ten months and three on-campus interviews to find a job. I have interviewed and successfully been hired for para-professional public library jobs in the past.

I did cover my tattoos for my on-campus interviews. In fact, I designed my artwork on my arm so it could be concealed by a blazer. While my advisor said that I should only work in an environment that would accept my tattoos, I decided to play it conservatively. First, some academic libraries can be formal, and it is not necessarily reflected by their org chart, website, or the institution’s reputation. Second, some people do have unconscious biases against tattoos. I thought it would be better to give prospective employers the opportunity to be open-minded and gracious after they already had a good impression. They don’t know that they are okay with ink until they know someone with ink. “We love New Employee! And she’s covered in tattoos!”

After I was hired, I asked if I could have visible tattoos on the job. I can, and I’m glad for it. I work in a sub-tropical climate, so short sleeved shirts or slightly sheer layers are necessary in the summer. To the best of my knowledge, no one has given my tattoos as second thought.

Liz Scibrarian, blogging on librarianship, science, and science librarianship

I have one small tattoo, 5 medium sized tattoos, and one large tattoo. They are on my back, upper arms/shoulders, chest, and calf.

I have only interviewed at two libraries – and got jobs at both. The first was an arts college in an urban area. The second (my current employer) was a small, liberal arts college in a suburban-rural setting. My current job is as an arts librarian.

On covering tattoos: Yes, and I cover as much as I can daily. For my interviews I wore the same outfit – the only business suit I own (pencil skirt, fitted jacket). I wore grey tights and a high neckline. In both cases I used the interview to assess the attitude and dress code of the library staff. In both cases, they were very open-minded and no dress code enforced (other than the basic rules we hope adults adhere to without formal policy). I’ve been fortunate in both jobs; if I interviewed at a library that required business dress or seemed very socially conservative, I’d probably be wondering if I wanted to work there anyway, regardless of tattoos.

Even though my current employer has no strict dress code (I wear jeans most days, with a nice button-down or other blouse), I try to cover my tattoos. I have been told that it’s ok that I have them and that I can “get away with it” because I’m in the arts, but I’ve found talk of social acceptance disappears when actually confronted with a tattooed person. The drawback to covering up all the time? When a coworker finally finds out I have tattoos, they seem to feel I haven’t been honest which can lead to trust issues (it’s minor, but it’s there).

I have four tattoos. One on my left foot, left hip, right rib cage, and middle on my upper back(between shoulder blades, but slightly higher.)

I’ve interviewed at two public libraries.

I covered my tattoos for both interviews. The first one, I asked about their policy on tattoos during the interview. I had noticed a few visible tattoos and piercings on a few of the workers there before my interview, so I felt more comfortable bringing it up. The second interview I did not ask, because I knew the library was in a more conservative area. Once I started work, I realized that one of the workers had multiple visible tattoos and an eyebrow ring, and the teen librarian had partially purple hair, so I didn’t really ever ask if it was okay, just kind of followed the lead.
– Ashley Jones, Librarian Assistant, Saline County Library, Bryant, AR

Lisa 1I am primarily tattooed on my back and shoulders. I also have a large piece on my upper arm, and small pieces on each foot. Basically if I had a t-shirt, jeans, and trainers on, you’d never know I had ink.

Lisa 2

On library type: Public, academic, private, non-profit, and museum libraries and archives.

Most of my ink is located on parts of my body that would be covered by the sort of clothing that I feel is appropriate for interview situations. The only tattoos that I have that could be seen in my normal interview attire are on my feet. These are generally covered by the bottoms of my pants or nylons, though I haven’t taken any further steps to conceal them (band-aids, cover-up, etc.). If someone was spending enough time studying my feet to actually notice my ink, I’d be more worried about how creepy that was and would wonder whether or not I’d want that person as my boss.

– Lisa L., Local history specialist at a public library, and administrator of the tumblr Tattooed Librarians & Archivists

ElinorI am very tattooed–I have half sleeves and a scattering of other large tattoos in other places. I also have large gauge ear piercings and a few facial piercings.

I have only interviewed at public libraries, though I have interviewed for both rural and urban positions.

Covering my tattoos depends entirely on the weather and the seniority of the position I am applying for. At the height of summer I applied to be the manager of a small rural library, so I wore a stylish grey short-sleeved belted jacket over a black camisole, with matching grey and black striped pants, and black square-toed boots. I wore elegant understated jewellery in my ears. My arm tattoos were visible, as were my nose piercings and labret. For my most recent interview it was February, and it was a supervisory position in a large urban library. I wore black slacks and blazer, a pinstriped button down shirt, and my shiny pink metallic Doc Martens. My tattoos were not visible, but I also knew from interviewing with that particular organization before that it didn’t matter if they were. They already have numerous tattooed employees at their branches. When I go to work, I can pretty much wear what I want, and have had nothing but positive feedback from coworkers, management and patrons.

Elinor Crosby, Nova Scotia editor

dawn_tattoo_11I am really tattooed 🙂 I have half sleeves, a chest piece, a giant tattoo on the back of my neck, wrist tattoos, back tattoos, several on my legs and ankles.  (I am attaching pictures to this email. Let me know if you need any more).

I have worked at a public library, a big-ten university library, and now a small liberal arts college. Before I landed my current position, I applied at public and academic libraries. Both appeal to me for different reasons so I would have been happy at either one. My only requirement was that the job be in Massachusetts near Boston because that is where my husband and I wanted to live.
Dawn-neckI did cover my tattoos for my interviews. Not because I am ashamed of them but because I understand that people judge. I own a tattoo shop in Indiana with my husband, who is a tattoo artist. We have been in the industry from a business side for 12 years so I have seen all walks of life come through the doors for tattoos. Even today in 2013, there are judgements made on those of us who are tattooed and definitely towards those of us who are heavily tattooed. I chose to cover my work because I wanted my future colleagues to see me for me. To see me for the skills I have to offer, the talent I possess, the creativity and enthusiasm I have for the library profession. I did not want my tattoos to be the focal point for I am so much more than my artwork. When I get tattooed, I am always consciously placing them on areas of my body that can be easily covered. The neck tattoo, for example, cannot be seen when I wear my hair down. My wrists tattoos are the only ones that are visible and that is because I tend to talk with my hands. There is nothing I can really do about that. I figure if those little tattoos keep me from getting the job then it was not the right job for me anyway.
I, of course, would talk about my tattoos in an interview if someone asked. But I never go out of my way to draw attention to them. I also do not say what my husband does for a living. Again, I know the assumptions made about tattoo artists and the lifestyle. Instead I say he is an artist. It’s not a lie. In terms of showing off my artwork, I usually wait until people get to know me and I have seen and experienced the particular culture of the place I am working. I have never experienced any negative reactions to my tattoos in any of the places I have worked. I know that some people are definitely put off by them and that’s fine. As long as someone is not rude about it, I respect their wish to NOT be tattooed. I also think about my tattoos when I go to professional conferences and the like. Usually my tattoos are covered, again so that people see me. My social media accounts however showcase my artwork so those who follow me online are already aware of my tattoos. It is their prerogative to approach me or not.
Dawn Stahura, Research and Instruction Librarian, Wellesley College.

Sara leg frontI’m not super tattooed but I do have a few visible tattoos. I plan on getting a full sleeve in the future and extending my leg pieces. I have two thigh tattoos that cover almost the entire thigh, a calf tattoo, a small shoulder tattoo, small wrist tattoos, and two hip tattoos. I don’t worry about the hip ones because they are covered regardless.

sara 1I have interviewed at a corporate library, public library, and a membership library (Boston Athenaeum) I currently work at the Boston Athenaeum and a public library. I was offered the position at a corporate library but turned it down.
On covering tattoos: Yes, my interview outfit is a black pencil skirt, tights, blouse, and sometimes a sweater. After starting at a job, I ask what their tattoo policy is and generally I don’t have a problem with showing my tattoos. I would rather cover my tattoos then jeopardize my chances of getting a job. I feel like I interview well and don’t want the interviewers to think less of me because of my tattoos.  sara 3
– Sara, Digital Programs department, Boston Athenaeum.
Sara’s Note: We are in the process of digitizing a large amount of the Athenaeum’s collections. It was only started about a year ago so we are a work in progress, but here is what we have so far if anyone is interested:

Now I want to hear from you!

If you want to show us your ink, you should be able to post html in the comments, or you can email a picture to me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Thanks for reading and responding!

Read the other two posts in this series here and here



Filed under Further Answers, Interviewing while Tattooed

6 responses to “Reader Response Requested: The Tattooed Librarian Part III

  1. How tattooed are you?
    I have 13 tattoos, most are easily covered up and I actually did that on purpose. I have a tattoo on my wrist that can be covered up by a watch or wearing long sleeves and one on my foot that can only be seen when I have on sandals.

    What types of libraries have you interviewed at?
    I have interviewed at public and academic libraries, I am a licensed librarian in GA, just haven’t been able to land a librarian gig. But I do work as an assistant in a branch.

    Did you cover your tattoos?
    My interview attire covers up the tattoo on my wrist. Most places will state their policy on tattoos, but I think more organizations are becoming less judgmental when it comes to tattoos.

    I have witnessed a girl not being hired for a children’s librarian position because she had tattoos, by the same person that hired me. Luckily I covered mine up. 🙂


  2. Pingback: Further Questions: The Tattooed Librarian | Hiring Librarians

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  5. I have 2 tattoos that generally can’t be seen though the third one I am planning on getting would get seen most days unless I wear a long sleeve shirt. I tend to show off my eyebrow and lip piercings more just so people know I have it. I don’t mind taking it out if a job requires it but I will not hide it so they know I have it, if someone finds it unprofessional then its not really a place I’d want to work for.


  6. Pingback: Return to Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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