Thursday, April 30, 2015

Team Library- We find Pills. AGAIN!

Greetings readers!

Yesterday Mintern found a pill outside the bathroom! Thinking it was a skittle, she picked it up and then upon realizing what it was, immediately brought it to me for direction.

(Note: Mintern may or may not have once dropped a pistachio on the office floor and then picked it up to eat it because 10 Second Rule, only to find out it was not the pistachio... Don't judge her lol.)

As long time readers may remember from the last time we found pills, we immediately took it to the clinic for identification and to see if she needed to officially report her findings.

Upon further review, the pill turned out to be a stool-softener. (That would explain why she found it outside the bathroom...) The nurse disposed of it and our adventure for the day was concluded. It may have been Mintern's first found pill, but it definitely won't be the last!

Until next time!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Prison Laugh o' the Day

So as a part of Money Smart Week, we had a clerk draw some money (million dollar bills, naturally) that we then copied on green paper and posted ALL over the library.  When she was putting it up, Mintern overheard the following conversation between the clerk and a patron:

Patron: "What are you doing?"
Clerk: "Can't you see?  I'm counterfeiting money!"
Patron: "Oh, that's cool!"
Clerk: "Yeah, I could teach you how to counterfeit if you'd ever stop doing DRUGS!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Money, Money, MONEY!

Hello Readers!  And happy Money Smart Week!  As you may or may not know, Money Smart Week, or MSW for short (or M$W if you are awesome like me writing it on my calendar haha) is a public awareness campaign designed to promote financial literacy.  In existence since 2002, it has finally made its way to prison!  (Not surprising, as we are 10+ years behind on a lot of things, including my work computer's version of Microsoft Office 2003.  Mintern had to literally re-learn it because she was barely even born when that version came out.)

Anyway, I am so happy to finally have the opportunity to do some MSW programs for our patrons, and if your administrators are ok with it, I highly recommend doing some MSW programming for your facilities next year.

This week our plans included a financial literacy movie which discussed women and money specifically.  It was on Sunday, and despite some snafus with staffing, Mintern was able to pull it off AND have the library open.  Way to go Mintern! :-)  We were a little sketchy about the movie because it was released in 2008 and we all know about the Great Recession in 2008... But we discovered it is still being sold on the PBS website so we assigned a project to one of our detail-oriented clerks to watch the movie and determine if it had a bunch of sound financial advice, or if it promoted investing in sub-prime mortgages or some other financial shenanigans.  She reported that it was sound and was actually very informative, so we decided to go with it.

Another thing we are doing all week is Money Jeopardy, which was invented by Mintern.  Since we have SO MUCH cardboard in the library (I *may* be a hoarder.  Don't judge me.) she designed a giant board with flip-up panels that have the answers in the form of a question and patrons can fill out an answer sheet and we are going to give prizes to the top 60 patrons.  So basically if you participate you have a good chance of getting at least a notepad, and everyone who plays will get a bookmark.  We also discussed taking one of our mustache bookmarks and cutting it out and taping it to Mintern's face and then she would walk around wearing a name tag that says "Ms. Trebek" and sing the Jeopardy theme song...  :-)

Our third and main event is a guest speaker who is going to talk about how to plan for your future, which is so important for our patrons because they are oftentimes living hand-to-mouth and usually supporting children.  Usually guest speakers hosted by the library don't have that great of a turn-out but this event had 87 people sign up (I was expecting maybe 10.  Maybe.)  and I had at least 20 people ask if they could still come even if they didn't sign up.  The speaker also happens to be one of my best friends (one way to succeed in prison programs-ask your friends if they want to come share their expertise.  Then, reward them with wine!  But not prison wine, because that's just nasty.) who is a professional retirement specialist.  In prison, there is not that much money for programs, so USE YOUR RESOURCES.  Plus, it makes people feel good to help people, so unless they are professional motivational speakers (one was paid $4,000 to come speak at prison last year.  Holy S***!  Do you know that that is my ENTIRE book budget for the year???  But I digress...) they will usually come and speak for free.

We are also displaying all of our financial literacy materials on table displays rather than on the shelves, so hopefully that will increase circulation because they are right by the door.  Finally, I think I am going to find some puzzles to print too, because people always want free puzzles.  Remember, passive programs are programs too!

I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into what prison library programming looks like.  We may not have the biggest budget, but we are nothing if not resourceful, so I think it will be good.

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An unfortunate thing happened on the way to the library...

Good evening, dear readers!

As you can tell from the post title, an unfortunate thing happened on the way to the library the other day for one of my clerks.  It was time for our afternoon sessions and it had been a fairly normal day.  However, after movement was called for the library, Mintern and I heard a commotion on the radio.  We didn't catch what was happening, other than they needed "first responders" to the west stairs.  Since neither Mintern nor I are designated first responders and we had a few patrons and clerks arrive in the library already, protocol states that we remain in place and manage our offenders in our area, rather than running out to be the hero in an unknown situation.*

We knew it was not going to be good when an overhead announcement was made closing the yard and locking everyone down.  This usually happens when there is a fight or other significant disturbance, so we had more of an idea what was going on.  We also saw our officer colleague running down the hallway to assist so we knew whatever was going on was urgent, especially because she is pregnant but in prison, being pregnant is not an excuse to not respond if your help is needed.

While Mintern and I waited in the library and helped our patrons and clerks who had made it prior to the incident, we speculated on what the cause might be.  We were both in agreement that it was probably involving someone who was coming to the library...  We weren't locked down for too long, probably about 10-15 minutes or so, and when everything was finally back under control, we learned the reason for all the drama.

Our missing clerks arrived, white-faced and wide-eyed.  It turns out that one of our clerks had been attacked by her on-again, off-again girlfriend in the stairwell while coming to the library for work.  Apparently, this clerk was walking with one of her friends, and the girlfriend became super jealous and started attacking our clerk.  She bit her hand so hard that she broke the skin and it was bleeding.  Then, when she had delivered the beat-down to our clerk, she ran after the friend and beat her up too.  I could tell it stressed our clerks out because they were very quite when normally they are happy to come to work, and one made the comment, "Ugh, skin on skin punching is NOT something I ever want to hear again!"  They reported that our clerk was not fighting back (in prison, if you fight back when you are attacked, you are liable to get a fighting write-up as well) and that they all got sprayed with OC because the officer who deployed it did it from a bit of a further range than is recommended.

All three of the offenders were taken to Segregation (in prison terms, they were RFP'd or "Removed from Population") in order to give them some cooling off time and also to give staff time to sort out what happened.  I haven't been back to work since then due to vacation and training, so I don't know what has happened, or if we can expect that clerk to return to work.  Generally, if they don't get a write-up we will retain them, especially in this situation because this clerk has come so far with regards to her personality since she started working there.  When she first started, she would not work at the Circ desk, and basically just wanted to shelve books and not talk to patrons.  Now, she makes awesome displays and actually engages patrons and even staff and provides really good reader's advisory services for Urban Fiction and Gay and Lesbian Fiction.

Unfortunately, incidents like this serve as a harsh reminder of the environment in which the prison library exists.  Don't let this scare you away, readers, but rather just let it be a lesson and a head's up that sometimes these things happen.  It could have been a lot worse--the girlfriend could have had a weapon, or the attack could have happened in the library.  I am interested to see what the result of the investigation is when I get back tomorrow, and I will keep you all informed.

Until next time!

*Note: when I was in a uniform and carried OC, I probably would have gone, but being in professional dress with no defense tactics other than what I learned at PPCT, I made the decision to stay in the library.  This is a situation you may come across in your prison librarian careers.  I highly suggest playing the "What IF..." game so that way if an emergency arises, you are not caught in the paralysis of indecision.  For example-what would you do if you noticed a scuffle between a Mental Health staff member who has an office directly across from the library and an offender?  Would you A.) Run over there and start throwing down; B.) Call for help on the radio or using the duress alarm and watch the situation from the safety of your library; or C.) Call for help with the radio or duress alarm, tell your offenders to sit down and lock down and go over to help your fellow staff member?  These are the things you need to think about.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Prison Laugh o' the Day

Today's Prison Laugh o' the Day is brought to you by one of our interlibrary loan request:

"Subject requested: French for idiot's"

Hahahahaha awwwww...