Saturday, November 8, 2008

Visiting our prison libraries

In October I hosted a librarian from England who was in the US on a traveling scholarship. In England she works in a women's prison. She toured libraries in Washington state, Washington DC and several of our prisons in Maryland. I arranged for her to visit JCI, MCIW, Patuxent, and a juvenile facility. She also spent a day at the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Visitors to all our institutions must submit one or more of the following, depending on the institution- name, birthdate, social security number, and driver's license at least 2 weeks before date of visit. This allows the institution to do a background check before giving permision to enter the institution. After I get the signed permission granting entry, I inform the visitor of the institution's rules for entry- applicable to everyone- visitors or staff.

Of course rules change each day and sometimes are based on the whims and interpretation of the officer at the security gate, like airport security.
  • Photo ID is required at all times
  • Prohibited: Cell phones, cameras, food, handbags, anything that can be used as a weapon, money over $20.00, any item that is not preapproved.
  • Some institutions do not allow entry to those wearing underwire bras if it sets off the security alarm.

Before I hire librarians, I invite them to visit the prisons since many persons have difficulty hearing the gates clang shut behind them. Once visitors are inside the libraries they often exclaim " It's like a real library." I usally refrain from saying "And I am a real librarian."


brandyrose said...

i wish that i had thought to do a prison tour before i began working at a california state prison (18 months now); it really was shocking the first day i went through a sallyport!

Peggy said...

I always recommend someone visiting a prison before taking the job as prison librarian

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