Tattoo History that Will Stick with You

By Stephanie Webster,

Do you have any tattoos? Do you know of someone who has tattoos? Have you ever heard of Henk Schiffmacher? Tattoo is one of our newest reference additions. It’s a beautifully bound book full of tattoo images from all over the world. Henk “Hanky Panky” Schiffmacher was born in the Netherlands and this book is a little bit autobiographical, as he tells stories of his world-wide travels, and a little bit anthropological, as he includes historical facts. 

The book begins with a history of Schiffmacher’s background growing up in a small village as the son of a butcher. He was an avid reader and had a strong appreciation for art. Many of his first photographs are included in the book. From the beginning, he draws his readers in with a conversational tone.

Once he sets the stage for us, he dives “needle-first” into tribal tattoos from the 1730s up to the 1900s. There are many full-page images and photographs detailing tattoos on indigenous people. Schiffmacher also includes photographs of the primitive tools used to create the tattoo. They are made of wood and bone. There’s even a picture of a preserved Maori head with a full facial tattoo! When you see the images of the process, you might be grateful that modern technology has progressed beyond pounding a large inked nail into your flesh by hand with half a dozen people holding you down.

The next few chapters feature many more genres covering over a century of tattoo art. He takes a sincere look at tattoo artists from a sociological background. He says “Tattooers have historically been outside of polite society because of the negative connotations of criminality or disease. This had very real consequences because the craft was decentralized, with very few standards.” Today there are many health standards and safety guidelines that tattoo artists have to follow. Many tattoo artists are revered and there’s even a Tattoo Expo in Indianapolis every June. Perspectives on tattooed people have changed to one of more acceptance and admiration.

It is clear Schiffmacher has respect for the craft and wants his readers to learn more about the history of tattooing. Even if you don’t have any tattoos, you can still admire the craft and beauty of the images within this book. If you are interested in learning more about the history of tattoos or just looking for your next tattoo idea, this book is sure to fascinate you! Tattoo is located in the Reference section.

Learn a New Skill and Enhance Your Resume for Free!

By Stephanie Webster,

Did you just start a new job and need help writing a formal email? Maybe you already have a job, but you want to upskill and apply for that new position. Perhaps you are just a life-long learner who enjoys exploring the world of online education. The New Castle-Henry County Public Library provides a wonderful free resource to help anyone, at any level, achieve or master a new skill set. According to the webinar: “Libraries and Workforce Development” almost “one-third of America’s workers lack digital skills.” GCFLearnFree.org might be the solution to raise the digital skill level of those workers.

GCFLearnFree.org is a program created by Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) and Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina, Inc. (GIENC). “For almost 20 years, the GCFLearnFree.org program has helped millions around the world learn the essential skills they need to live and work in the 21st century. From Microsoft Office and email, to reading, math, and more—GCFLearnFree.org offers more than 200 topics, including more than 2,000 lessons, more than 1,000 videos, and more than 50 interactives and games, completely free.”

You may be asking yourself, “Self, how do I find this amazing site?” Well, from our home page, click on “Resources” and you will see GCFLearnFree.org as a link under “Adult Learning.” Once that page opens up in a new browser window, you will see four main categories the website has prepared for you: Technology, Work, Core Skills, and Reading & Math. There is also an option to browse by clicking on “All Topics” on the right-hand side. Simply click on the one you want to explore.

The best part is that it is all self-paced. You can take your time or fly through the tutorials. Many of them link out to outside resources so you can further your training. 

The tutorials are also available in ten different languages so if English isn’t your native language, there is a huge possibility that you will be able to access the tutorials in your native tongue. 

Whether you want to learn how to write a superb resume to snag that dream job or study for the GED/TASC test, GCFLearnFree.org can assist you with those skills and many more! For more information, visit the Reference Desk or email us at reference@nchcpl.org.

Written by Stephanie

How TV Can Make You Smarter

By Stephanie Webster,

Most of us enjoy watching TV, whether it be for a respite from a hard day of work or to learn about what is going on in the world. Whatever your reason, TV can actually make you smarter.

In her book How TV Can Make You Smarter, Allison Shoemaker chronicles decades of television shows and breaks them down into learning tools.  She sorts television types into six different categories: “The Conversation Starters,” “The Lens Openers,” “The Empathy Generations,” “The Creative Challengers,” and “The Carousel.” Each type will provide a unique opportunity for learning and growth. Shoemaker provides plenty of examples (and a few spoilers–but she’ll warn in you advance) so anyone in any age group can relate.

Many of us spent time last year quarantining due to the pandemic and opted to binge our favorite television shows or maybe tried watching something new.  How did you decide what to watch? Was it a suggestion from a friend or family member? Pure curiosity? Shoemaker has a handy little quiz you can take to find out whether a series is worthy of binge watching or not.  It’s not quite Buzzfeed, but it’s still pretty fun to take!

Her strongest suggestion comes toward the end of the book:

“Want TV to make you smarter? Seek out the bold risk-takers, the shows that are trying something new, writing their own rules, and then finding creative ways to break those rules. They’ll challenge you to question what you know about storytelling and how stories should work, and in doing so, they will ask you to think about how those stories affect our perception of the world” (84).

How TV Can Make You Smarter is located in the Ratcliffe-Carnegie Reading Room. 

~Review by Stephanie W., Reference Supervisor