Libraries, Vets & Tattoos


With nearly 2 million veterans in California and a generation of veterans returning from two wars, San Mateo County Library and a cooperative of innovative library systems have launched a timely and relevant project, War Ink, an online exhibit of Iraq and Afghanistan veteran memorial tattoo art.

Exploring War through Tattoo Art

War Ink logo.War Ink will launch on Veterans Day 2014 on, and represents a platform to explore the unfiltered record of war that veterans have documented on their bodies. War Ink will consist of a multimedia exhibit of 18 veterans from throughout the state. The story surrounding each veteran’s tattoos will be recorded by the nationally renowned StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative, and their tattoos photographed by Shaun Roberts whose work has been featured in GQ and

Founder of StoryCorps Dave Isay says, "We are delighted to be partnering with San Mateo County Library and libraries throughout California to celebrate the diverse and vibrant stories of California's veteran and military community. In doing so, we remind one another of our shared humanity, strengthen and build the connections between people, teach the value of listening, and weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that every life matters."

About the War Ink Project

War Ink will be curated by Jason Deitch, the project's scholar, as well as a former combat medic and sociologist, who co-created War Ink with Chris Brown, Contra Costa County Library's Project Director. "This project represents both a unique collaboration for cutting edge and relevant cultural programming as well as a powerful context for the authentic and honest voice of veteran culture…reaching into and genuinely interacting with the communities that veterans are struggling to rejoin."

War Ink will be made possible through an ever growing collaborative that includes nationally renowned StoryCorps, grant-makers Cal Humanities, Pacific Library Partnership, and a cooperative group of innovative library systems who are exploring the creative potential for the library field: Alameda Free Library, Contra Costa County Library, Mountain View Library, Oakland Public Library, Sacramento Public Library, San Diego County Library, San Jose Public Library, San Mateo County Library, Santa Clara County Library District, and Santa Cruz Public Libraries.

Looking for Veterans

Are you a veteran with a tattoo and a story to share? Contact Jason Deitch or call 510.593.8423, and look at the flyer.


Author Bio:

Nicole Pasini manages the Portola Valley and Woodside Libraries. She is thrilled to be a part of this exciting project with libraries throughout California.

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