Monday, May 18, 2009

Prison Library Workshop

Prison Librarians and UNO instructors attending prison library workshop in Omaha, Nebraska

Recently I conducted a workshop for Nebraska prison librarians and library school students at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. The content of the workshop included, environmental scanning, collection development, prison gangs, and coping with daily issues in a prison. We toured a correctional facility in Omaha where inmates' access to legal materials is via the Internet, through one of the legal database vendors. The inmates have only Internet access to the legal database- nothing else. Prisoners online access to legal databases is likely the wave of the future for correctional libraries since most vendors are reducing paper and cd rom/dvd databases. Many prison administrators are nervous about this, but as this is a cheaper alternative, we hope most of them will come around before the end of the century. I enjoyed sharing my experience and passion with other professionals and with library school students. I received great feedback from the participants who appreciated that the workshop specifically addressed the issues pertinent to their situations. The feedback from the library school students was heartwarming. Some say they are now looking at prison librarianship as a career option. Hurray. We need new prison librarians to take over from those of us who are on the cusp of retirement.

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