Saturday, June 4, 2011

Value of Prison Libraries

One thing that stuck with me during my recent  interview with NPR.  I asked the prisoners how many of them visited their public libraries when they were outside the fence.  Only one person held up his hand.  He said, " I only visited the library because I was homeless and I could stay there and no one bothered me.  In the day it was like a shelter.  I really didn't know about searching for information.  Now that I am in prison, I have learned to use the library to look for information to help me when I get out."

What is the difference between working in a prison library and a public library I was asked?  I replied that I knew all the visitors in the prison library and security was there to escort them outside if they  got out of line.
When I worked in the public library, there was the constant reminder, "My taxes pay your salary." so public librarians had challenges of a different kind.


JCL said...

I don't know how people could not find value in libraries for inmates -- or for anyone else. That's certainly what we've been hearing from library patrons and staff through LibrariUS, our national project to examine how people are using libraries today. It would be great to hear from prison libraries, to learn more about why people go to the library, and what they value it for.

Would you please consider getting the Maryland correction system libraries to participate in the project so your patrons can? I'm happy to answer your questions. You can reach me at

Thank you.

Melody Ng

Peggy said...

Would you send me information as to what this entails? Reason I ask is that because it is a prison, I may have to get the permission of the prison administration. Please Send your comments to:
Phone 410 767 9761