Friday, October 31, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 7

Happy Halloweenie!!!!!!

Our final ghost story of this Halloween season points to poltergeist activity in the library, in addition to apparitions....

Back when I was working swing shifts, I was waiting for the evening library session to start and getting a little work done on my computer.  I heard a huge commotion in the library proper, which was weird because no movement had been called yet and my door was locked anyway...

I went out to investigate and noticed the Open/Closed sign that we have suction-cupped to the door had flown TEN FEET from the front door.  Now, sometimes it falls off when the suction cup loses it's suction but it has NEVER fallen more than inches from the door.  AND the suction cup and sign were not connected like they usually are when it just falls off.


It seems like the library ghost has been calm lately, which my conspiracy theorist clerk attributes to the giant picture she drew of an ogre that she says scared it away.  Be that as it may, just be advised, future prison librarians, that prisons are places where people live AND die, so you may or may not have to help some of the confused spirits along to the light, or be the brunt of their pranks when they just want to hang out and cause shenanigans. :-)

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 6

Are you getting scared yet, dear readers?

This story is a throwback from when we used to let the male patrons from the facility across the way actually visit the library in person.

One night when the men were coming to the library I was standing at the door counting everyone with the clicker because I don't trust the clerks to get everyone accurately.  I counted and clicked 6 patrons and thought nothing of it...until it came time to leave.

As we were checking the patrons at the end of the hour, I noticed that there were only 5 patrons in the library.

"Where is your extra person?  I think you are missing one," I alerted the escorting officer.

"Ummm, we just brought 5 over today," he responded.

Now, I KNOW I counted 6 because I am so anal about counting the correct number of people and when you have that small of an amount of patrons, it is not hard to get an accurate count of people coming in the door.

Library Ghost strikes again......

Monday, October 27, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 5

This one is not a ghost story per se, but definitely makes you go "Hmmmmmmmm."

One day Minion #1 was working and he got an offender's ID for a writing utensil.  When the offender gave the pencil back, he forgot to give her ID back and even forgot that it was in his pocket until he got home that evening.

Thinking nothing of it (he was planning to take it back to the unit when he retrieved book drop) Minion #1 got the work the next day and was shocked to discover that THE PATRON HAD DIED THE NIGHT BEFORE.

Now, she was older, but was still in good health and was not expected to kick the bucket.  Housing staff even put her roommate in segregation and was investigating her for murder!  Ultimately, the roommate was cleared, but now Minion #1 is extra mindful about never taking anyone elses' ID home and for good reason in my opinion!

Until next time!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Library Ghost stories, Episode 4

One Thursday, a few months ago, Minion #1 and I were standing at the circulation desk monitoring library happenings when the library fan fell over.  When he went over to pick it back up, Minion #1 noticed that the base of the fan was mangled and he could not make it stand up.  We were dismayed because it was hot in the library and we needed the fan for air circulation but it was clearly out of commission.  Thinking someone had bumped into it and then just propped it up hoping we wouldn't notice, I checked the cameras...

NOBODY HAD WALKED BY THE FAN FOR 30 MINUTES.  I watched the clip over and over as the fan was sitting there, fanning away quite happily and then randomly fell over.  There was no explanation for how the metal fan base became so mangled that it would no longer stand...except the LIBRARY GHOST.  


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."

Friday, October 10, 2014


Whew this past month has been rough. We finally got the approval to hire our vacant-for-over-a-year position, only to have it wrenched away at the last minute. Now, I am down another staff member because Minion #2 got a new job doing ILL at an academic library. Same pay and much less stress...can I get one too? Haha. Mintern also got a fabulous new position at a public library so it's just me and Minion #1 who has been reassigned full time to another facility so really it's just me. Allllllll byyyyyy myyyyyyseeeeellllfffffff! Again.
So, sorry for the long dry spell. I haven't been able to frame it in a funny way since I am too frustrated. But, I am realigning my outlook to be more positive so next week I will have some funny stories for sure. Happy Friday!