Thursday, October 23, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 3

This one didn't actually happen to me, but it happened to Minion #1 in the library, so hence it is a Library Ghost.

Minion #1 was covering at another facility and he was happily entering the interlibrary loan requests in the database when a patron asked for his assistance in the library.  He left the office in the middle of his project to help the patron and when he returned minutes later, he noticed a very strange sight.  His formerly neat piles of "done" and "not done" interlibrary loan requests were messed up and in the database was a DOC number that he did not enter.

Minion #1 was intrigued, so he checked the DOC number in our offender database and he was shocked to find that it was someone WHO HAD DIED AT THAT FACILITY FIVE YEARS AGO.  Unfortunately, he must have used all his spectral energy entering his number because he didn't get to the part where he said what he wanted to request.  Alas, we will never know what this patron's final ILL request was.  Hopefully he got it from the afterlife library.

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 2

In our library, the door is really squeaky, which helps us to know when people are coming in or going out.  This is a great feature, when people are actually coming in or going out.  Frequently, I will hear the door open (and oftentimes hear keys jingling, meaning staff is there) but when I peek around the column that blocks my direct view of the door to say hi and see who's there, NOBODY IS THERE.

One day I had just arrived at work for a swing shift when some Rec staff came to see if they could borrow my library cart.  I let them, because it's a good way to build good rapport for the library and they went on their merry way to run their errands.

About 20 minutes later I remembered I needed to sign for my controlled items so I stepped into the supply closet to sign the log.  While I was in there, I heard the door open and a female voice call "Hello?"

"Oh, hi!" I yelled from the closet, "You can just go ahead and leave the cart there, I'll get it!"  Obviously, it was the Rec staff returning my cart.  EXCEPT WHEN I LEFT THE CLOSET TO GET THE CART IT WASN'T THERE!

Thinking I may have scared someone off with my out-of-context greeting, I checked the cameras to see who it was so I could follow up with them and see what they wanted.  Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that NOBODY HAD OPENED OR CLOSED THE LIBRARY DOOR SINCE THE REC STAFF LEFT WITH MY CART.

When they finally did bring it back an hour later, we laughed it off, but I knew that the Library Ghost was at it again...

Until next time...doodedoodoo doodedoodoo doodedoodoo

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 1

Happy almost Halloween everyone!

Ever since I have been writing this blog I have always meant to do a special Library Ghost issue for Halloween.  However, the more I work in prison, the more ghost stories I have, so I am going to spread them out into MANY blogs!  Enjoy!

This one happened when I first started working in prison:

We used to check the patrons' books as they were walking out the door to make sure they had the right date due stamps.  One night as I was checking everyone, I noticed a girl in the back corner of the library by the Romance section.  I called out to her "Ok, it's time to go, would you please bring your books over here so I can check them?"  She looked at me and then ducked down behind the shelves.  Thinking she dropped something, I went over to check on her and make sure everything was ok.  However, when I got over there, THERE WAS NOBODY THERE.


Side note, whenever I check the cameras I always see flashing lights in that corner of the library in the camera that faces that way.  And no, there is NO WAY it can be headlights because the library windows face a greenbelt.

Until next time...sleep tight!  Muahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Prison Laugh o' the Day

Offender #1: "Hello, Library Girl!"
Offender #2: "Don't call her that! She's the Library Deputy!"
Offender #1: "Hello, Library Deputy!"

Sunday, October 19, 2014

So you want to be a prison librarian-more tips for getting hired

Happy Sunday readers!

Today's blog stems from a note I wrote to my future blogging self and then just rediscovered as I was cleaning my room today. It is a timely discovery as there are lots of prison librarian jobs open at the moment. Here are a few ideas to get your application materials to stand out above the crowd and hopefully get you the coveted interview:

1. Address your cover letter to the right person. Generally this is going to be the hiring manager. If you don't know who it will be, a general "Greetings!" is much better than a salutation to the wrong person. You can always call the person listed on the job announcement to make sure and if you can't get them on the phone then just leave it generic.

2. Taking #1 to the next level- make sure you are submitting a cover letter for the correct position. Nothing impresses hiring managers less than having to read all about how you would be perfect for a job that is not even theirs. If you accidentally attach and submit the wrong one, immediately apologize and send the correct one. I need someone who has attention to detail in addition to the desire to work for my open position and if you can't even get me the right cover letter then you are definitely not the right person for the position.

3. Get a professional email address. "" might give you fond memories of your college days but save that one for your friends and/or Tinder account. Use some sort of combination of your first and last name for maximum professional impact.

4. Explain exactly how your previous experience will apply to the duties of the new position. Even if you are light on library experience, you can still sell me on your server/bartending experience by highlighting your ability to work in a fast-paced environment with people who are sometimes difficult. If you have lots of other library experience tell me how you think that will transfer to prison. If you just say "I'm an awesome medical/children's/corporate librarian" without telling me how that translates to prison, you will probably not be selected.

5. It is ok to contact the person listed on the application with questions. Some good questions to ask are "What kind of personality type would fit best in this environment?" And "What strengths would you like to see in your ideal candidate?" You could also ask me to describe my typical day or ask what I like best about working there. (Note, if you don't call the person listed, these would also be good questions to ask at the end of the interview when the panel asks if you have any questions for them. But it's best to do your homework first so you can tailor your application materials and make me really interested to meet you for an interview.)

I hope this helps all of you in your job search. Please let me know if you have any other questions about how to make your application the best.

Until next time!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Prison Librarians: helping people without all that pesky "technology"

Greetings readers! Today I was at a conference and we were listening to a presentation that featured digital initiatives and my colleague leaned over and asked me, "Are you sad that you are missing out on all that?"

I thought about it for a little bit because she was asking in all seriousness and then I replied, "No, because still I get to help people and that's what I really love to do." As a prison librarian, you will never be on the cutting-edge of technology. You will be lucky if you have Microsoft Office 2010. But this job is so much more about helping the people in-house that you really don't have time to wish for technology because you are too busy finding information so they can create a plan to be successful when they do get out, since 97% of them will one day.

Now don't get me wrong, I think digital initiatives and technology in the library are wonderful and I think prison really does people a disservice by locking them up for decades and then expecting them to do well in a fast-paced world that relies heavily on technology. I can't even tell you how many of my patrons avoid the OPAC because they have never used a computer mouse before. None of our patrons have legal* access to the internet. And don't even THINK of getting a 3D printer. I had to fight administration because they wanted to ban an article in Popular Science that said "Yes, people can make guns with 3D printers." It didn't have the code or anything. They just didn't want them to even THINK about it. (Side note- that's like the local school district trying to ban the teaching of history that includes stories of civil disobedience. Because if you don't tell kids about it they will never even think to do it? O_o)

Anyway, I'm happy to be at the conference for the next two days. I love being able to get together with like-minded people who are awesome and remind myself why I chose this field.

Until next time!

*The only way people get on the internet in prison is by having a cell phone smuggled in with internet service. One of my old clerks got into huge trouble one time because he had taken a selfie outside the prison gym wearing his prison greens and made it his MySpace profile pic but didn't think to make his account private. Yeah, the Intel officers saw that quickly and sent him down to the supermax before you could say "hashtag."