Sunday, May 20, 2012

Prison Librarians: Getting paid to read porn since 1985

Greetings and apologies for not posting in a while! Sometimes prison life gets in the way and since one is not allowed to use work time or internet for personal pursuits it has been a while since I've had time to post. The topic for tonight's discussion is one that is very dear to every prison librarian's heart and that is the topic of pornography and censorship. In the prison library, pornography is a hot button issue. Generally, prison upper management is very conservative, and the do not believe that anything sexy should be allowed in the library. Because prison librarians are generally more liberal, we do not believe that it is up to us to decide how a person will react to materials in the library. Oftentimes this will lead to clashes, so if you are one who runs from confrontation, you may want to consider a different career path. To make matters even more complicated, at my prison I am required to sit on a committee that reviews incoming mail for a multitude of reasons, one of which is to keep sexually explicit material out of the facility. Now, you might think that this would be an easy task because as a librarian it is our job to resist censorship, but it is not as easy as it sounds. For starters, the rule for the committee is that if there are 5 or more pages of penetration, bodily fluids, etc. then the material is not allowed. Thus, an hour or more out of my every other Wednesday is spent counting the incidents of penetration and oral sex in that month's Hustler or Penthouse. If mail comes in for someone who has a sex offender reading restriction, my job then becomes to note each page of the letter that violates that restriction, so I read through multiple pages of horrible handwriting looking for such things as 304 (slang for a hoe/prostitute) or other sexy writings. Now, the rule in the library is different because in the library material must be "primarily devoted to" being sexually explicit before it is disallowed. And how does one determine if something is primarily devoted to being too sexy? Well, naturally one must read the entire work. Ha! One book that I reviewed contained multiple scenes of solo and multiple sex, sadism, masochism, penetration with animate and inanimate objects and bestiality with the family dog AND AN OCTOPUS. Yikes! Because the number of pages without sexually explicit material was 13 pages out of a 250 page book, it was placed on the not allowed list. Where it gets awkward is when everyone on the committee says something is too sexy to come into the facility and I let them know that there are things that are way more sexy on the shelves in the library. Ultimately, the point of this post is to let you know that if you have delicate sensibilities and are offended by sex, you may want to look at a different career path. :-) Until next time...

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