Wednesday, March 5, 2014
1. Whooping cough. Because you never know when your clerks will come down with it because their moms were anti-vaccine.
2. Tetanus. Remember the post about how librarians are expected to participate in facility shakedowns? Well, if you are lucky enough to find the rusty shank, but unlucky enough to find it WITH YOUR UNGLOVED HAND THAT IS NOW BLEEDING, you will probably want to not get tetanus because I hear it is nasty.
3. Hepatitis. A, B, C, D, H, I, J, Z......any Hepatitis you can get vaccinated for, you should. Really, you can only get vaccinated for Hep A and B and there are only 5 types, but that is NOT something you want to contract, so get vaccinated.
4. Chicken Pox. I got it when I was in kindergarten, but it seems like kids nowadays just get the vaccine and never have to deal with the itchy spots. If you are in that generation where you never got chicken pox in school, and never got around to getting vaccinated, probably should just do it because you never know with kids nowadays.
5. Influenza. Now, personally, every time I get the flu shot, I get so sick, so I never get one and I never get sick. BUT, my immune system is a champ so you should probably get it unless you know that yours is a champ as well (i.e. you haven't taken a sick day in 15 months.)
And remember the Prison Golden Rule: If it's wet and it's not yours, DON'T TOUCH IT.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Prison is full of germs. There's just no way around it when you have 900 staff and offenders crammed in a space the size of a small commune. People get all sorts of crazy diseases besides the general ones you associate with sharing things like dirty needles. I got mono one time and was out for two weeks! All the clerks were sure that I had died haha. Just today one of the clerks said they had Whooping Cough. Yikes!
So, what is a prison librarian to do to stay healthy in a germ-filled environment? Well, first of all, I say some germs are good for you because it strengthens your immune system so there's no need to go crazy with hand sanitizer and Virex. Just follow these simple tips to stay healthy in prison:
1. Work out and eat healthy. This is important no matter where you work and you will feel so much better.
2. Don't let anyone use your pen. You don't know where their hands have been AND you probably won't ever get it back if you let it out of your sight.
3. Wash your hands prior to eating lunch and after handling library books. Books are dirty. You don't want to eat that.
4. Take sick time when you are sick, but try and keep a week or two in the bank justincase you come down with something really nasty. There's nothing worse than needing to take sick time and not getting paid or having to use your vacation time.
5. Drink lots of water. Hydration flushes out germs.
6. No touching in prison. This rule is helpful for so many situations!
7. Don't have sex with offenders. See rule #6.
During your first year or so you will probably be more sick than you will be after that. This is because your body is getting used to the new germ situation. But stick it out, take vitamin C and you should be feeling fine in no time.
Monday, March 3, 2014
1. Pay close attention to the geographic requirements of the job. Most prisons are in rural areas, which is good for cost of living, bad for your social life. First, consider if you really want to work 2+ hours away from the nearest metropolitan area. Second, if you are already in a rural area and lucky enough to get an interview for an urban prison librarian position, please do research on housing availability and prices BEFORE the interview. If you decide that you don't want to/can't afford to live in a place AFTER you have rocked the interview and gotten everyone all excited, that will be disappointing for everyone involved.
2. If you get an interview-BRING A RESUME. Better yet, bring three copies of your resume. Never assume I know who you are. My HR department does not give me ANY background info on the people I am interviewing. The more materials you have to leave for me, the better and longer-lasting impression you will make.
3. I do not want your 6 page CV that details every little thing you have ever done in your entire life. Keep it to two pages MAX and I want everything in it related to the position at hand. If you have no prison experience, that is ok. Detail how the experience you DO have will benefit my library.
4. When asked the million dollar question, "So. Why are you interested in working in a prison library?" DO NOT say "Well, I am really not, it is just something I applied for." When I have six candidates, and two say "I am really interested in correctional librarianship because......" and the other four are just there because they are trying to find a job, any job, I am going to pick the ones who want to be there. Prison is hard, and if you are just looking for a job, any job, my suggestion is to also apply at a book store.
5. Do some research about the prison at which you are applying. (You should really research any place to which you are applying.) If you can't find anything about the prison in particular, read some books about correctional librarianship. You know that part in the job advertisement where it says "For questions, contact________"? It is ok to call them and talk about the position. Ask intelligent questions like, "What is the culture of your institution?" and "What personality types would fit best in this position?" That way you can a.) pre-screen the position to see if you would be a good fit and b.) ask even more intelligent questions in the interview because you already have some background about the place. The National Institute of Corrections is a phenomenal resource to learn about the trends in corrections that are mirrored in correctional librarianship. Trauma-Informed Approaches? Yep, we are trending towards that. Gender-Informed Practice? Yes, we are changing our culture to reflect that too. If anyone knew about those buzz words during an interview with me, they would score at least 10 extra credit points, even if they have no library experience beyond the minimum qualifications.
6. The background check. You will be subjected to a background check and drug test prior to your employment in a prison library. I had one applicant who was PHENOMENAL. This person had all the right qualities for the position. Unfortunately, they did not pass the background check. If there is anything in your past or present that might preclude you from working here, just be advised that they dig up EVERYTHING. So be honest, and if there is anything questionable just know that even though you might be the perfect person for the job, if you can't jump through the hoops, you will not be eligible for hire.
In conclusion, dear readers, a final word of wisdom: Even if you don't get that job, it doesn't mean you are a bad person or a bad librarian. It just means that you weren't right for the position at that moment. So if prison libraries are something you are passionate about, think about what I said, re-tool your resume and interview skills, dust yourself off and try again. Until next time!
Monday, August 19, 2013
The other day, we were leaving the library and I was walking with the clerks to get the elevator and she quips as we are walking out the door, "You know those new Samsung flat screen TVs? Hackers can look out at you from them! So think about that before you run around your house naked!" Granted, that's not a professional conversation topic, so how do you respond to that when you just want to laugh out loud? I smothered my chuckle and just said, "Interesting. I don't think that will be a problem." That way they know a.) I don't own a flat screen TV and b.) I don't run around the house naked. I guess "Nudity is not an appropriate work-related conversation topic" but I always think of better things to say after the fact. And it just makes me laugh so much, I don't want to discourage her creativity. Plus, then I would not have such funny things to report to all you potential prison librarians out there.
Being a librarian, I decided to do some research into this conspiracy theory, and it turns out there is some information out there:
Apparently, it's not just hackers who will be watching your private display of nudity, but the entire staff of Samsung...
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Anyway, seeing this Sons of Silence dude reminded me of the Hell's Angels guy I saw about a month ago and I came up with a new game. It's called "Motorcycle Gangs I've Seen on the Highway BINGO." So far I have two squares, and I am going to place them on the board by the free space so that I only need to see two more to win. I think I'll also have a space for a Faux Hell's Angel, because one thing I learned in prison is that the Hell's Angels logo should ONLY be seen in profile, and if anyone gets a tattoo, or puts a patch on their vest with the skull facing forward, that is cause for DEATH. Do NOT disrespect the Hell's Angels skull facing to the left, or you will DIE. I might even make that one a floating wild card square, because if you see one before they are exterminated by the real Hell's Angels, well then you might as well buy a lotto ticket that day too because they are super rare.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Today, I was thinking about how this really applies to prison, and helps put things in perspective and allows you to keep your sanity. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, prison library patrons will look you in the eye and lie to your face. That's just the way they are, because that is one of their coping mechanisms for dealing with the harsh reality that has been their life. Somewhere along the line they were given the advice to "deny, deny, deny" anything where they could be implicated. Personally, I used to have a huge problem with people telling me lies, especially when I knew they were lies. It would make me so angry, and I would do all I could to get to the bottom of it. But, I have now realized that if people are going to lie, they are going to lie and that is their shortcoming rather than a reflection on me.
So why should we continue to work as prison librarians, if people are the way they are and they're not going to change? I was also pondering this question today, and I have decided that it is an issue of training. What is child rearing, but training tiny humans to act in ways that are beneficial to society? Unfortunately, some parents are more concerned with getting high than with training their children to become productive members of society. Some people can overcome the lack of training and not end up in prison, but there are many who end up incarcerated. Enter, the prison librarian. We fill in for parents who were less than stellar by correcting poor behavior, rewarding good behavior, and steering people towards positive leisure time activities. We also don't lie to them, we have no ulterior motives (other than to introduce them to good books muahahahahaha) and we expect them to speak proper English and not swear when they are in the library. Basically, my job is to re-train my patrons and model the behavior that I expect of them. But again, if they choose to continue on their own path, that is more a reflection on them because I can leave work every day knowing that I did all I could to better peoples' lives and one day it will get through.