Lest any potential prison librarians be scared off by the crazy stories in this blog, I figured I should take a moment to talk about all the positive things that happen in the prison library. One of my favorite stories happened a few months ago, and every time I think about it, I am reminded of why I am in this profession.
There is a patron who frequently comes to the library and checks out lots of books every time she's there. One day she came up to me and said, "GUESS WHAT??" "What?" I replied. "When I got here, they tested me at a first grade reading level, and NOW I am at a college reading level!!!" To have a relatively new patron increase her reading level that much in such a short time is amazing, not to mention heartwarming. Too often, patrons are just interested in pulling shenanigans in the library, so it is nice to see one who is utilizing her time wisely to better herself while she is incarcerated. Without all the awesome books we have in the library, she may not have been able to increase her reading level so exponentially.
Frequently, I have days where everything just seems to fall into place. The patrons are well-behaved, and I am able to meet everyone's information needs quickly and to their satisfaction with resources that are readily available. I love being able to connect patrons with new authors and my ultimate favorite question I get in the library is "Can you help me find something good to read?" YES!!! Then I take them around the shelves and pull books off and they head to the table with an armful of books and an exclamation of "Aw man, why can I only have five, there's so many good ones here!"
Not all days are this good, but the good days happen frequently enough to keep me coming back, and to mitigate the bad days when they happen. So never fear, prison-librarians-to-be, because the good days are out there and once you start to get into the swing of things they will out-number the bad days.