Libraries are fun, safe spaces for communities to come together, share resources, and preserve local histories. However many public libraries in the U.S. are chronically underfunded due to continued tax cuts and threats to education access.
Fortunately, one community has dreamed up a creative solution to support their local library.
On Sept. 30th, the Americana Tattoo parlor of Denton, Texas hosted a flash tattoo pop-up event to raise funds for the Denton Public Library.
Americana owner Justin Underwood organized the event as a way to support the Emily Fowler Library Foundation — an organization that directly supports improvements and services for the Denton Public Library. Of the funds raised, 50 percent went directly to the foundation.
“A lot of people like tattoos,” Underwood said in an interview with the Denton Record-Chronicle. “It’s easy to spend money and get a tattoo if you get to donate it to a cool cause.”
The pop-up ran for 7 hours on a first come, first serve basis. At one point, the parlor had a dozen people waiting outside its doors.
On the event’s Facebook page, Americana Tattoo said the proceeds went toward Denton Public Library’s mission to “build community by promoting lifelong learning, encouraging human connections, and sharing resources.”
Libraries are more than just a place to borrow books; they are community hubs that promote accessible education for all ages.
A majority of public libraries offer free classes and workshops, preserve archival history, and provide safe spaces for marginalized teens and people experiencing homelessness. Many were instrumental in providing frontline care to their patrons when COVID-19 spiked in their communities.
Libraries across the U.S. also offer a surprising amount of nontraditional items for loan. Objects range from toolboxes and museum passes to sewing machines and bike locks — items which are all immensely helpful to low-income households.
Unfortunately, public libraries in the U.S. are vastly underfunded. Libraries do receive a portion of state taxes, but that number is a very small percentage of their total annual revenue. And political restrictions on education access — like book bans — have direct impacts on library funding.
The truth is that most libraries are funded by their communities through individual donations and foundations.
In September, the Northern Tier Regional Library of Gibsonia, PA hosted a regency tea party that raised $850 in donations for their “Love Your Library” campaign.
The Kellogg-Hubbard Library of Montpelier, VT is currently hosting an online auction to raise money after a flood destroyed an entire collection of books reserved and shut the building down for repair. Items range from collectible first print books and rock climbing classes to a signed Taylor Swift poster.
Americana Tattoo’s collaboration with the Denton Public library is one more example of local community fundraising efforts that keep the lights on in libraries across the country.
Alexis Clingan — Treasurer of the Emily Fowler Library Foundation — told the Denton Record-Chronicle that it was heartening to see so many people turn out in support for the flash tattoo event.
“It just feels so great to do what we’re good at to … support a cause that’s really important,” Clingan said.
You might also like: The Goodnewspaper is now available for free at your local library