While at work last week, a patron who visits the the university with her husband every summer began telling me about her stint as a librarian before she dedicated more than 20 years to teaching over 1,000 2nd graders.
Surprisingly enough one of her librarian jobs was at a probation office. One of her projects was to do a study to see who could predict a person on parole’s likeliness to re-offend by examining the client notes of probation officers or social workers.
She found that probation officers were more correct. Probably, she told me, because there was such a high recidivism rate in our current system and the probation officers were probably more hardened by their job compared to the social workers who took more of a “Pollyanna approach.”
What she thought would reduce recidivism rates while people are behind bars was to treat the population as individuals instead of trying to treat a group of people who are perceived as all the same, especially when it comes to education and learning in the prison system – and that also means in the library.
Randomly meeting a patron who also has experience within the PIC with a librarian perspective, it was good to have her remind me of what libraries can offer patrons behind bars and to continue thinking about how to serve a variety of patrons with a variety of different needs.