Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Library Ghost stories, Episode 8

So last week Mintern was on a mini-vacation and I was by myself and having a rather stressful day.  I got back to the library from running errands all over the facility and all I wanted to do was sit in my office and catalog in peace.  I turned the lights off in the library to indicate that nobody was home and made my way to my office.  As I was sitting down at my desk, I heard three quick knocks on my door and I glanced up to see who it was.  (I thought it might be a staff member because I locked the door and had the lights off, but someone could still come in if they had keys.)

I saw what looked like a white face looking at me, and since I hadn't been too focused when I was glancing, I made a concerted effort to look at the door and say hi.  However, when I moved my body enough to get a full-on view of the door NOBODY WAS THERE.  I KNOW I heard the knocks though because frankly, I was annoyed to have to make polite conversation haha.

Library Ghost strikes again!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So you want to be a prison librarian? Well here are some jobs that are open RIGHT MEOW

I came across these and I felt like I should share them with my dear readers, just in case anyone is inspired to take the leap into the field.

California Department of Corrections
Library Technical Assistant 
Senior Librarian 
The salaries are not terrible (although if you are paying off an expensive MLIS, I would not recommend applying for the Library Technical Assistant) and it says the recruitment process is "continuous" because there are positions open across California.  The qualifications assessment is pretty in-depth, but not too bad if you are serious about working in prison.

Washington Department of Corrections
Branch Library Associate (In-training)
Here, you actually work for the Secretary of State's office but there are positions open in three facilities.  These positions do not require a MLIS and the salaries reflect that, but I hear WA is one of the premier prison library systems and it would be a good entry into prison librarianship.

Illinois Department of Corrections
Library Associate
Starting salary is $3,508 so not too shabby.  Apply by 6/5/15.

Gadsden Correctional Facility in Florida
Library Manager
Click Search Openings and do a keyword search for Library.  However, be aware that this is a private prison, which means it is for-profit.  It is also a women's prison, so be prepared to deal with a lot of patron drama haha.

Remember, some states have residency requirements for employment.  Just read the instructions carefully so you don't waste your time and the recruiter's time.  I will keep posting more as I find them, and if you want me to look over your resume and/or cover letter you can email me at

Until next time!

Prison Laugh o' the Day

Clerk: "Yeah, I had 7 brothers and sisters growing up and we liked to do 'experiments' with the vacuum cleaner so it was always broken.  That made my dad mad so he would make us clean the carpet with our hands.  No one can clean a carpet like me!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Wow, what a day...

Greetings, dear readers!  It's your friendly neighborhood prison librarian here with another story from the trenches.

Today I witnessed my first use of force- up close.  My supervisor, colleagues, and I were having our weekly meeting when we heard a commotion over the radio.  Everyone looked around with raised eyebrows as we awaited more information.  Seconds later, the call came over the radio "WE NEED FIRST RESPONDERS TO UPPER PROGRAMS!"

Because there are some officers on my team, and because when an incident is happening in your area, you respond no matter who you are, we all went running out of the library to assist.  We heard the screaming all the way at the other end of the hallway* which made us run even faster.  When we got to the west stairwell, an offender was in a wheelchair screaming "I'M CONFUSED!!!  I'M SO CONFUSED!!!" as other staff were trying to calm her down.  Rather than calming down though, she just kept escalating and when one of the staff told her that they were going to restrain her with handcuffs she attempted to stand up from her wheel chair and started fighting.

Now, when an offender refuses your verbal direction, you have some options but you need to get them back under control as soon as possible.  Hopefully you all will go through training (we go through a pressure point control tactics training class) so that you don't get hurt.  As soon as the offender stood up, 6 staff engaged her to get her on the ground.  I was not close enough to see if they were using any of the pressure points, but she was definitely not making it easy for them to get the cuffs on her.  Once she was on the ground with her hands behind her back, she started spitting at the staff and banging her head on the cement floor.  Despite repeated orders to stop banging her head and calm down, all she did was bang harder and yell expletives at the staff.

Once she was handcuffed, they attempted to put leg restraints on her.  She was not having it though and some of the staff almost got a boot to the face.  She was finally restrained with handcuffs, put in an escort chair (a chair with straps and cutouts for hands that are handcuffed behind the person's back) and outfitted with a spit mask and taken off to segregation.  As we debriefed with each other, it was discovered that she had been let up the elevator despite the fact that it was not scheduled movement and her appointment was not for 30 more minutes.  When the teacher who intercepted her asked her where she was going and then informed her that the other teacher she was there to see was not even in the building at the moment, she absolutely lost it.  Now, while this is not "normal" behavior for most people, this offender is a 4 out of 5 on the mental health needs scale, which means she has severe mental health issues.

As scary as this situation may sound, I was thankful that there were so many staff around to handle the situation.  This same thing could happen in a public library (mental health problems are not limited to prison library patrons) but in that setting, there are not responders 3 seconds away.  However, this could just as easily have happened in my library.  Sometimes people are not happy when their hold expires, or one of their books is missing or damaged and they have to pay for it.  I highly recommend playing the what-if game with this kind of situation, that way if it does happen you at least have a plan for how to deal with it.  This is also an important reminder that rules are there for a reason, and if someone is there unauthorized, they should NOT be allowed to go into the area.  There have been many incidents of offenders getting into places where they shouldn't be and staff getting taken hostage and hurt.  As much as we try and model a public library, it is still prison and there are still dangerous people there.  Library service is important, but personal safety is paramount.

Until next time.

*To give you an idea of how long the hallway is, I had Mintern measure it with her Fitbit and it took approximately 250 steps to get from one end to the other.  It's a pretty long hallway.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Now I know how the ghosts feel

Greetings dear readers!

Oy, today was a crazy day! Mintern was out sick so I was running the ship solo again. I had forgotten how much work that was, especially because I decided I would help Mintern with the interlibrary loans so she wouldn't be too far behind when she gets back. When I left I felt like I could work for 10 more hours and still not be done and when I passed by the lobby officer I told him:

"Now I know how the ghosts feel! I have so much unfinished business in the library that if I died tonight I would definitely be haunting this place tomorrow."

Speaking of Library Ghosts, we were out to a lunch meeting the other day and one of my colleagues who used to be Medical Security told me that he and a bunch of nurses used to see a black, triangle-shaped shadow that would race along the ceiling of the clinic and make the lights flicker in its wake. What's even creepier is he said he only started seeing it after a certain offered died. AND GUESS WHO THAT OFFENDER WAS?!?!?


Weird, eh. 

Anyway, I'm off to bed since it will be my physical rather than spectral form appearing at work tomorrow. Until next time!