Thursday, February 7, 2013

Prison Libraries

Prison libraries throughout the US
Prison libraries throughout the US - Library Journal
Top photo by Stephn M. Lilienthal; bottom left photos
by Darren Wagner

Library Journal recently published a feature on prison libraries and the services they provide to the incarcerated. It's an important service which helps a population that greatly benefits from access to information and reading materials. Prison libraries serve not only in an educational capacity, but also a rehabilitative one. Many inmates make use of the legal materials that prison libraries stock, as well as the computers which provide a variety of software but with limited or no internet access. If internet access is provided, it will be heavily filtered so as not to pose a security risk. Wikipedia has a good entry on prison libraries. Library services for inmates isn't a luxury, but is often seen as an essential tool for helping them turn their lives around after paying their debt to society.  NPR not long ago interviewed librarian Glennor Shirley who was in charge of Maryland prison libraries before she retired in 2011. The WP also profiled her extraordinary life and career as a prison librarian. Society owes a debt of gratitude to anyone willing to work behind bars serving a high-risk population - a humbling and gratifying mission! 

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