The Durango Public Library has gone hip.
Show them your tattoo, and librarians will offer recommendations for books, movies and music you might enjoy.
“We wanted to show the library is for everyone,” Director Sandy Irwin said. “We didn’t invent this; we borrowed it from the Multnomah (County) Library in Portland, Oregon.”
People of all ages have been taking the library up on the offer, she said.
“We do better when we learn somebody’s story behind the tattoo,” Irwin said. “One woman came in with a bird, and she shared the story that she got it when she first got married, and they got tattoos together. They’ve divorced now, and she said now the bird makes her think of “Forest Gump,” when Jenny says ‘Dear God, make me a bird, so I could fly far, far, far away from here.’”
Irwin recommended Wild by Cheryl Strayed for this library patron. Subtitled “From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” it’s a true story about a woman who recovered from losing her mother and her marriage ending in divorce by hiking more than 1,000 miles alone.
“She said she’d read it, and that it’s perfect for her,” Irwin said.
Brian Loring’s tattoo, a knife with a tiger head, is considered an American traditional theme. Made famous by Sailor Joey after World War II, particularly with sailors, it is characterized by bold colors and thick lines.
That inspired Assistant Library Director Colleen Galvin to suggest graphic novels for Loring because “it is a bold way of telling a story,” she said.
Another visitor had a tattoo of the house with balloons from the movie “Up.”
“That’s about an older gentleman who had some anger issues and just wanted to escape,” Irwin said. “So I recommended Revenge of the Radioactive Lady.”
Written by Elizabeth Stuckey-French, the book features a senior protagonist who lost a baby after a doctor gave her a radioactive cocktail in a secret government test and the woman’s plan for revenge after 50 years.
“It’s dark but uplifting and very funny,” Irwin said.
Most librarians love to read, but just in case they’re stuck for a suggestion, cheat sheets have been prepared for them in general categories for the most common tattoos. Categories include Celtic-themed, animals and Asian-themed.
For those sporting military tattoos, recommendations include books going back as far as The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, about the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway about the Spanish Civil War and the World War I classic All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Books are also esoteric, such as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, or reflect experiences by war photographers – It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario – and women – Love My Rifle More Than You by Kayla Williams.
Movies on the theme include “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Black Hawk Down” or “Inglorious Bastards.”
“Of course, some tattoos are in places where people don’t want to show them,” Irwin said with a laugh, “ so then they just describe them to us.”
For those seeking recommendations who can’t get into the library, fear not – they have you covered via social media.
Post your tattoo – G or PG only – on the library’s Facebook page, and they’ll post back some possibilities. The more information given about the background of the tattoo and why it was chosen, the better the recommendations will be. The library hasn’t received any tattoos via Facebook yet, Irwin said, but staff members check the page regularly.
As the tattoo program promotional period continues until Nov. 10, library visitors can also pick up temporary tattoos, Irwin said.
“But we will still do it all the time,” she said, “even after the promotion ends.”