Don't miss your due date
October 28, 2015 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Neat interview. I don't know if it was the transcription or just her stream of consciousness but her thoughts seemed to get jumbled a little, like in the bit about the death penalty and older people in prison. Clumsy editing maybe?

Also since we're on the subject here's a link to how to donate books to prison libraries, courtesy of the link roundup on the Toast today.
posted by Wretch729 at 1:33 PM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

When I was at library school in London, Ontario, fifteen years ago, there was a binder in the student lounge with job openings; most were standard just-after-graduation glorified temp or intern positions, but one was for a prison library in San Diego. It did not pay well.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2015

When I went to the ALA convention in San Francisco this summer to table at the Zine Pavilion, there was a booth for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation trying to recruit librarians.
posted by larrybob at 1:55 PM on October 28, 2015

Really interesting interview. I never considered the privacy (or non-privacy) concerns that prisoners might have when using a prison library.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:42 PM on October 28, 2015

On a similar topic, the one and only research library rock and roll radio show, "Lost in the Stacks," recently interviewed a public librarian who works in a county jail. It was really quite moving.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:42 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

You know, I have worked my fair share of shitty library jobs but literally none of them compare to prison librarians. They are the unsung (because people outside of the sector don't even know they exist half the time) heroes of the sector, imo.
posted by halcyonday at 4:26 PM on October 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Alison Green of Ask A Manager interviews a prison librarian

I kinda wanted to have it be this kind of interview:

Green: What is the penalty when books are late?
Librarian: You want me to say saomething like 'the shiv', right.
Green:, not at all.
Librarian: Just kidding. Yes, it is a shiv.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:31 PM on October 28, 2015 [11 favorites]

In reality, they just get stamped. Or for egregious offenses, they're docked.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:36 PM on October 28, 2015

I've only known one librarian in my career that once had a prison library gig, and even mentioning it would open the floodgates of complaints (of course, she was a natural born complainer, so that should be factored in).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:41 PM on October 28, 2015

How precious a book must be to a prisoner. The guy who she convinced to read "Gatsby" got me.
posted by Modest House at 6:02 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Fantastic post, thanks.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2015

Mail books to prisoners. Memail me if you need to be linked to some resources in your area.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:30 PM on October 28, 2015

This was just linked by The Toast today. Synchronicity ftw!

Donate Your Books to Prisons: What, Why, and How
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:39 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I liked this book as a portrait of a prison librarian.
posted by dlugoczaj at 8:38 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

This interview ran so true to me. I used to do shifts for a volunteer run library at a local city jail. It didn't have a regular library so via a prisoner advocacy agency some of us would go in and deliver books from the small paperback collection at the jail. We pushed our selection from range to range on a book cart, a la Shawshank Redemption, passing books through the bars to individuals. Like the woman interviewed they liked us because we weren't guards, we weren't lawyers - and of course in our case we would also see if any prisoner had a request to meet with a counsellor. I really loved the work. I never knew what any of the guys were in for an knew them only as "the guy who loves the White Indian series"

Before we reached a new range the guard would always call out, "Put your clothes on guys. The book ladies are coming". This warning was because invariably some guy would jump in the shower whenever they heard the book cart [the way this jail went was about 10 guys were in a range with a common area and individual cells in behind, and there was one shower at the end of the range. Each range was open but with bars all the way down.]

Like the librarian in the interview when two of her patrons intervened with guys masturbating in the library, with prisoners you get a loyal library clientele that I have never seen the like of before or since. Once I was taking too long to pass a book to one guy and he reached through the bars and snatched it from my hand. He was a new guy. One of the longer-term guys grabbed him, threw him up against the bars, and said, "Don't you *ever* give BGP a hard time".

It's definitely some of the most rewarding work I've ever done. I gained a whole new appreciation for the need for prisoner advocacy and have since had no time for politicians trying to score cheap points by claiming that prisoners have it easy.
posted by biggreenplant at 8:13 PM on October 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

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