In the world of Prison, everything is routine. Wake up at the same time every day. Eat chow at the same time every day. Count time, four times a day. Movement is at the same time every day.* Visit the library, sleep, repeat. This is why when we get new books, you would think it is a milestone birthday, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Purim, 4th of July, Boxing Day AND Canada Day rolled into one. Our patrons are so excited and new books rarely last on the shelves more than 30 seconds after I take them to the shelving cart. Envision, if you will, piranhas eating a something, and you will see what happens every time I put out new books.
Now, selecting materials for the library is not as easy as you might think. We have extremely limited budgets as well as selection criteria that say what we can and can't order. For example-we can't have items that are PRIMARILY DEVOTED TO being sexually explicit (penetration with animate or inanimate objects, sadism, masochism, pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, etc.) but they are allowed to have sex in them, as long as there is a story line to tie the sex together. More examples-Laurell K. Hamilton-allowed in. 50 Shades of Grey-not allowed in. Although somehow, many copies snuck through the mail room before it was discovered what that book really was because the mail room just looks for pictures and ignores words. So when we were doing reader's advisory practice with the clerks and one said she was reading 50 Shades, I just said hmmmmmmmmmm because hey, they didn't get it from me.
On a tangent, this in an interesting conundrum of library privacy in a prison. In a public library, a patron reads 50 Shades of Grey, no big deal. In a prison, it is a big deal since it violates the rules. So here's how I handled it-I am going to respect her right to library privacy and patron confidentiality, but if I am shaking down her room and I find the book, I will take it. This is a good example of the kinds of moral questions you will face as a prison librarian. If you are hard-core radical militant librarian-type who can not bear to censor books for any reason, even the "safety and security of the facility" then you may want to consider other types of librarianship. OR, come on into prison and fight the good fight every day, just be prepared to have lots of enemies. Unless you can do it in a nice way, which is a topic for a future blog.
So, back to new books. One of the most rewarding parts of my job (and #2 favorite librarian duty) is collection development. (My #1 favorite librarian job is reader's advisory.) It is so awesome to hear multiple patrons exclaim how happy they are over the new books we got. (I do not take their comments personally though because "OH MS.__ YOU ARE THE BEST LIBRARIAN EVER!!!" is probably someone trying to groom you, rather than a heartfelt expression of joy over the new books.) But, when they're reading they're not rioting so I do my darndest to use my limited resources to get them stuff that will keep them busy and out of housing staff's hair.
*Except lately, it seems like it's always 5-15 minutes late, which is very aggravating to someone on as tight of a schedule as we are. It's your ONE JOB to call movement on the hour every hour. How hard is it? Except one day I did see this individual sleeping in the Mail Room so maybe that explains it...