Monday, February 8, 2010

Prison Librarian and Outreach

Prison Librarianship can be isolating because most librarians work as one person managers. The librarian who does not get involved in outside professional organizations tend to become institutionalized. What? Hammered daily by the rules, rigidities, and regulations of those intent on public safety, and concerned about job security, some find it easier to conform to the arbitrary censorshop of reading materials, and begin to identify more with security. To keep my focus as a librarian rather than as a prison librarian, I am involved with the larger library community, and this year I will become the President of the Maryland Library Association. This has been a great help in putting the face of prison libraries in front. Read my other blog: Foreign Librarian in Library Land


Aileen said...

Congratuatlions on this appointment :)
I have been reading your blog for a while; I have been working as jail librarian for a little over a year now, and I am still learning what it means to serve the incarcerated. I have some trouble connecting with outside agencies, but your blog is a good place to get ideas. I am hoping to connect with some other librarians in the prison system to share ideas, experiences, etc.


Anonymous said...


I found your blog when I was trying to answer a question from a teacher. Are libraries mandatory in US prisons? Could you possibly refer me to the law that references this?

Thanks in advance for your help!


Peggy said...

Hi Eileen, You have to keep working at it. It is because I am persistent or because I worked for many years in public libraries. Librarians tend to think you are a saint to work in a prison. I sometimes invite them to visit, or to do a book discussion. That is a start. Good Luck.

Peggy said...

Hi Mary

There is no legal mandate for prison libraries. In a law called Bounds V Smith the supreme court said inmates must have "access to the courts" They did not say how. Many prisons chose to set up law libraries to meet this mandate. Others jave used public defenders. I will address this in another blog.

Barbara said...

Hi Peggy,
I was so thrilled to read in your blog that you were appointed President of MLA! Usually public librarians are so interested to learn about "libraries behind the bars". I know you will be doing so much in your new position to get the word to other librarians just what we do at our libraries for the incarcerated. I work at a county facility and still love coming to work after 12 short years. I am looking for some local resources in Anne Arundel County/ Baltimore City to facilitate some programming for both female and male populations. Do you have any suggestions or success stories with some local groups, authors, or individuals? Any feedback would be appreciated.
From a member of your fan club,
Ordnance Rd. Correctional Center
Anne Arundel County
Glen Burnie, MD.

Peggy said...

I must apologize. I just came upon your comment. For the jails it is often good to connect with some local book clubs or with some of the church groups. I try to steer these groups away from religious things and tell them the men and women want information to be successful in the community, family and financial literacy