The Goods

10 of the Best Bookish Items for Punk-Ass Book Jockeys

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Ashlie Swicker


Ashlie (she/her) is an educator, librarian, and writer. She is committed to diversifying the reading lives of her students and supporting fat acceptance as it intersects with other women’s issues. She's also perpetually striving to learn more about how she can use her many privileges to support marginalized groups. Interests include learning how to roller skate with her local roller derby team, buying more books than she'll ever read, hiking with her husband and sons, and making lists to avoid real work. You can find her on Instagram (@ashlieelizabeth), Twitter (@mygirlsimple) or at her website,

Leslie Knope has done a lot, but her greatest contribution might be the term “punk-ass book jockeys.” Although originally used as an insult, librarians everywhere have overcome the confusing hate from the Parks and Rec employees to wear the badge proudly. Knope, you might have wanted to bring us down, but you gave us an edge! This phrase has moved us away from the stereotypes of shushing and cardigans. Librarians are dangerous! From a delighted punk-ass book jockey herself, thank you. Your (satirical, right? RIGHT?) hatred of our profession has led to a rebranding that makes me feel like a rebel instead of a stuffy matron. The books aren’t mine to protect, the people are!

Leaning into this celebration of all things bad and bookish, I’ve gathered some treasures that are dying to jump into your cart. We’ve got inside jokes about inter-library loans, skeletons refusing to let go of their books, and reminders that nothing is more punk than collectively sharing free information and resources. Whether you are a librarian wanting to show off your awesomeness, a library supporter (thanks for your awesomeness), or a reader who generally likes things on the darker side, there is something on this list for you.

a black and gold enamel pin that says "librarians, saving your asses since 300BC"

This pin is a quick way to remind the public that librarians have been here for years. The black and gold will work well with an edgy cardigan OR a smart-ass T-shirt. Librarians Saving Your Ass enamel pin, $12+

scissors, straight pins, and a cross stitch bookmark that says "punk ass book jockey" and has flowers

I can’t do a punk-ass book jockeys round-up without including at least one mention of the phrase. This cross-stitch bookmark even has Lil’ Sebastian! Punk Ass Book Jockey Modern Cross Stitch bookmark, $17

black and white med sticker that says license to I.L.L.

If you know, you know. License to I.L.L. sticker, $3.50

a blue car with a white silhouette of a girl reading a book as a sticker in the corner of the back windshield.

Taking back every stereotype as our own, this new rendition of the classic truck mudflap girl is not just a woman posing performatively. It’s a woman posing performatively with a book! Mudflap Girl Reading sticker, $6

image of a dim room with a pink neon sign glowing the words Books Are Magic with an image flowers blooming from an open book

This sign is so beautiful I can barely write about it. If your personal book nook skews more towards a quirky hangout than a mahogany-and-leather vibe, this sign would be the perfect addition. Books are Magic Neon Sign, $112+

a blonde white woman holding a black tote bag with an image of a skeleton holding a book. The words say "You can pry my book from my cold, dead, fingers. Just One More Chapter."

You probably don’t need more tote bags, but an exception could be made for this one. Let them know what you’ll do if they come between and your book. Cold Dead Fingers tote bag, $20+

multiple stacks of  black and whilte stickers showing shelves of books and the words "Support Your Public Library. Free Information is Punk.

This black and white sticker is a call to action and a reminder. This listing is sold in packs, so plaster them around your community or pass them out to friends. Free Information is Punk sticker, $15 for a pack of 15

a cozy room with soft white lights and a lit white candle with the words "only bad bitches are librarians."

The candle says what it says. Light it up and read something. Bad Bitch Librarian candle, $30

a white blonde woman wearing a dark grey shirt with an image of a grave and a side view of the skeleton below reading in the ground. The words say Read in Peace.

If you or someone you know would do almost anything to get some peaceful reading time, this is the shirt to buy. Read In Peace T-shirt, $20+

a black woman looking to the side and smiling wearing a black tshirt that says "What's more punk than the public library?"

Another affirmation that, while Leslie Knope was kidding, the true essence of punk is in this space where curated information, services, and resources are being peddled with zero expectation of payment. What’s More Punk Than the Public Library T-shirt, $20+

Looking for more gifts for the punk-ass book jockeys in your life? Check out this list of stickers for library lovers! Happy shopping, and happy reading.