Resources for Aspiring Prison Librarians

Today I came across two great resources made by and for Library and Information Science students who might be interested in perusing a career in prison librarianship. Here they are!

  1. Prison Libraries: An Annotated Bibliography
    • by Sharon Bailey, Kim Parry,  and Emily Thompson
    • Oct. 24, 2011
    • This annotation provides an overview and sections on prison library services and programming, access to information and the digital divide, collection development, and their own search strategies.
  2. Books Behind Bars: Is Correctional Librarianship a Job for You? – A pathfinder for librarians and library science students interested in exploring library services to the incarcerated as a profession
    • by Justine Johnson
    • December 2009
    • This pathfinder’s intention is on the historical and current placement of LIS and the connection between the PIC and libraries as institutions. It offers sections on general sources, history of correctional library services, correctional library programing, profiles of correctional librarians, juvenile populations, and professional resources.

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

In honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, why not watch a few (okay, a little more than a few, I couldn’t choose the best one!) videos about Shakespeare in prison. Videos below focus primarily on men, but here is where you can view Detroit area’s women behind bars’ experience with Shakespeare. In 2005, there was a documentary made on this subject called Shakespeare Behind Bars and a book in 2001: Trousnstine, Jean. Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women’s Prison. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2001.

The video below focuses on a program from Indiana Statue University. One of the participants has been in solitary confinement for 9 years and has been in the Shakespeare program for 7. My favorite piece about this, is that participants not only learn how to interpret Shakespeare’s plays so they are comprehensible, but rewrite the plays. The rewritten plays by the participants are then the version that is performed. One participant said that before joining the program, he was “on the border of loosing [his] mind.”

This next video is a promotional video for Kentucky’s Shakespeare Behind Bars Program is filled with pictures, statistics, and testimony. A couple key testimonials are: “SBB is about family and finding yourself. Without this support system I wouldn’t be who I am today.” and “By playing someone else, I have learned to be myself.” The most powerful statistic is at the end on recidivism; the national rate is 67%, Kentucky’s is 29.5%, and program’s is 6%.

Below is author, prisoner, and participant of Rehabilitation Through the Arts,  Intelligent Allah. You can find Allah’s first book, Lickin’ License here.

Below is an additional testimony for RTA from participant Shariza Terrell who makes connections between himself and other prisoners with characters from Shakespeare.

This last video is from the Shakespeare Prison Project that is associated with the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. 

[For photo credit, follow link in the photo.]

Imprisoned Writer Arthur Longworth featured in Seattle Times

Recently, the Seattle Times published an article called Writer’s World: Life Behind Bars. Journalist Jonathan Martin writes about Arthur Longworth, his life-long prison sentence (with many visits to solitary confinement), and his journey to becoming a writer.

Longworth became a writer at the age of 40, about 20 years after his entry into prison. In the article, he discribes his writing as “an effort to survive in an unforgiving environment.”

Why does Longworth write? In an interview with the “Inside” Prison Writing Bloghe says:

Other writers who have gone through similar experiences and recorded them.  It may be wishful thinking, but I believe that at some point in the future Americans will look back at this time (when so many of their fellow citizens were locked away in prisons, many of them sent there before they were even fully adults and sentenced to spend their entire lives there) and consider it a dark age. When that happens, I want my writing to be there (and the writing of others like me) so people don’t forget and allow this to happen again.

As a University Behind Bars student, Longworth is featured in this video:

Finding Lonworth’s writings:

Longworth’s short stories Wala Wala IMU and The Hole can be read through the PEN American Center. Both works have been given awards by PEN.

Here is a link to Longworth’s published work The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth via WorldCat (there is only three libraries with the book).

The r.kv. r. y. quarterly literary journal published The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth (I’m not sure if this edition is different than the published edition).

Happy Bookmobile Day!

Happy Bookmobile Day! What a great idea – mobile libraries are just plain fun! In honor of this day, here I would like to share a prison bookmobile program.

The Virgin Islands Public Library’s pilot bookmobile program, titled “Beyond the Walls Thru the Bookmobile”, began in 2009. In 2010, the program was considered a success and the bookmobile frequents the prison bi-monthly.  The program aimed to reduce recidivism, promote life-long learning, reduce violence  in prison by having something to do to face boredom through leisure reading, preparing for re-entry, and increasing reading skills. Besides being mobile, a unique feature of this program is that those behind bars are issued a library card, the first of the programs I’ve encountered that mentions that patrons in prison have a physical card they keep and bring with them to check items out.


[**photo credit – click on photo to bring you to webpage that contains picture**]

Virgin Island Public Library System

Bookmobile Prison Program Launches in USVI via Island Journal

New Section in the Reading List

A new section was added to the “Reading List” tab to reflect journals that have specific issues released that focus on prison librarianship or the PIC.

Resources are listed by publication date.

This section is located at the bottom of the “Reading List” tab and what has been newly added is below.

Journals with issues dedicated to prison librarianship or PIC:

  • Library Trends  – Winter 2011 – Vol. 59 No. 3 – “Library and Information Services to Incarcerated Persons: Global Perspectives”
  • Radical Teacher – 2010 – No. 88 – “Teaching Against the Prison Industrial Complex”
  • Genre – Fall/Winter 2002 – Vol. 35 No. 3-4 – “Prisoners Writing” (is edited by Megan Sweeney)
  • Library Trends – Summer 1977 -Vol. 26 No. 1 – “Library Services to Correctional Facilities”
  • Library Association Pamphlet: Watson, Richard. Prison Libraries. London, 1951.

Urban Fiction: Part II – Resources On-line

As I try to explore Urban Fiction, I have found my self in multiple fits of frustration trying to find sources that I want… sources that are academic, critical, for librarians, or anything pertaining to Urban Lit. Recently I’ve came across some on-line sources that have proved very helpful in getting to where I want to be! Here are just a couple of excellent Urban Fiction Sources that are available on line:

WorldCat Genres: Urban Fiction

  • WorldCat has introduced an ‘experimental’ feature on their website that allows for an alternative method to browse library collections – this is their Genres section.
  • Here you can explore: authors, books, movies, subjects, places, and a teen section (there is a list dedicated to Urban Fiction and teens).
  • FYI: If you are not familiar with WorldCat, one of the coolest features is that once you are looking at an items’ page you can see where the closest book is to you by entering your zip code!
  • At first I thought that there were only ten books featured on this site, but there is 550+! In case you are also confused on how to explore this longer list, you can find it under their “Books” section through “Explore More Books.” [**See image  immediately below.**]

Urban Fiction/Street Lit/Hip Hop Fiction Resources for Librarians

  • In wiki style, this site provides booklists, social media, review & discussion sites, bestseller lists, articles, other wikis, power-points, pod-casts, and more.
  • One could spend hours exploring links on this site… and the links on those subsequent pages.
  • You can join the community of librarians to improve the site by adding information / links that will serve the community looking for Urban Lit resources.

Street Fiction

  • Holy Smokes! This site blows me away… I can’t believe it took me this long to stumble upon it!
  • Not only does this site feature Street Fiction, but sub-genres that are not frequently highlighted: Urban Nonfiction, Urban Christian Fiction, and Teen Urban Fiction. The majority of what is offered for each of these are reviews and purchase.
  • An additional unique feature is their section for LIBRARIANS (!!) that includes articles, booklists, books on Urban Fiction, history of Urban Fiction, and more.
  • One can also browse by author, place, and topic.

Street Lit Collection Development Resources