Upcoming Webinar – Street Smart: Urban Fiction in Public Libraries

picI am so excited! Vanessa Irvin Morris will be presenting a Public Library Association webinar on Urban Fiction called Street Smart: Urban Fiction in Public Libraries! Register for the May 15, 2013 webinar here.

Participants will leave the webinar with the ability to:

*Understand the evolution of street lit as we know it today

*Articulate the difference between urban fiction and street lit

*Refer to established resources for the purpose of collection development and readers advisory

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During this 1 hour long webinar, Vanessa will be:

highlighting the popular literary genre, street lit, also known as urban fiction. Morris will not only explore the historical context for the genre as well as the characteristics and sub-genres, she’ll also provide concrete ideas for collection development, readers’ advisory and programming.

Vanessa is the author of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Street Literature, which I highly recommend!

She also has a great website: www.streetliterature.com.

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Meditation Resources

On the prison library listserve, this mediation resource was shared. It is one that I’ve bookmarked, so I thought I’d share it as well. (To subscribe to the listserve, visit this website.)

Loyola University Maryland has the Bridge Project that’s mission is on the power of meditation. The project states that:

In prison the body is confined. The spirit and soul need not be. Thousands of inmates around the country are using their confinement to trigger an inward journey. They are traveling to a place of greater joy, peace, and freedom. You are invited to join in!

You might also be able to find or start a contemplative group in your institution. This is an inward journey but it sure helps to have companions.

To assist, we have included some inmate letters and an extensive resource list for those seeking information, help, and support in developing a meditative practice. Don’t hesitate to contact one or more of these groups.

Remember, as you embark on your journey, that love and energy surrounds you!

They offer resources via a website or a pdf that provides a list of organizations, what they have to offer people behind bars, and how to contact them. (FYI: The websites listed on their resource page do not work, but if you copy & paste the urls, they work just fine.)

Their resource website also links to a documentary called The Dhamma Brothers which is free to watch on Hulu. Below is a preview.

Hot Topics Dialogues: Incarcerated Sisters

Last week I had the opportunity to be on a panel for the Hot Topics Dialogues series focusing on issues women face in prison.

We discussed why women are incarcerated & what women were disproportionately behind bars, what dangers / risks women faced, women & family relations, programming  for women in prison, challenges women face, etc.

I was able to share what prison librarianship means behind bars, what the jail libraries look like for women in our local county jails, what women read, censorship, programs libraries offer, urban fiction, etc.

Below are some resources that were suggested at the panel:

Web Sources:

Print Sources:

Kind words for Exploring Prison Librarianship & a Great Youth Services Resource

This weekend I had a very nice surprise… stumbling on these kind words for my blog’s Urban Fiction Resources page!

The sweet librarian that said such nice things has a great website called Library Services for Incarcerated Youth. I don’t really mention youth services much. This website will be a great source for all of us!

Library Services for Incarcerated Youth features five key resources for you: getting started, funding, successful projects, evaluation, and resources. Check it out!

Bringing Down the New Jim Crow – Radio Series

Today on Facebook, Michelle Alexander reminded us about the radio documentary series Bringing Down the New Jim Crow.

I did not realize that it was already out. They had been raising money this summer (Crowdfunded Radioshow to Illuminate the Intersection of Race and Incarceration) and they made their goal. We have some catching up to do, so gather your friends or set up your listening station as you do the dishes (my favorite!) and tune in!

The radio series “explores the intersection of the drug war, mass incarceration, and race in the contemporary U.S.”

There are three episodes out:

  1. A Bitter Harvest: California, Marijuana, and the New Jim Crow
    A Bitter Harvest views Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” through the lens of California’s marijuana industry.
    Marijuana is the single largest agricultural commodity in California and it is the primary vehicle for the war on drugs’ racialized arrest and incarceration system, which has our prisons bursting at the seams nationwide. Great numbers of predominantly white men and women grow, harvest, and process marijuana in California for distribution throughout the United States. Local law enforcement and the communities they represent – communities whose economies are marijuana-dependent – benefit from letting this part of the illegal process go mostly undetected, while the crackdown happens almost exclusively in poor inner-city neighborhoods of color.
    Through interviews with Michelle Alexander, Stephen Gutwillig (Drug Policy Alliance), and Vincent Harding (renowned veteran of the African-American Freedom Movement), this program cracks open the question of why and how this discrepancy exists, and it explores some of its devastating consequences. It’s a show that grapples head on with the reality of white privilege in the United States.
  2. On the Other Side of the Myth: A Conversation with Michelle Alexander and Tim Wise
    This second installment in the series titled Bringing Down the New Jim Crow features the first ever dialog between legal scholar Michelle Alexander and anti-racism educator Tim Wise. An engaging, provocative interchange touching on the prison-industrial complex, white privilege, Trayvon Martin, and the unceasing quest for racial justice in the United States. Produced by Chris Moore-Backman, with music by Joe Henry.
  3. Children of the Same Sorrow: The U.S./Mexico Caravan for Peace Takes on the Drug War
    This moving and provocative documentary chronicles the historic journey of the “U.S./Mexico Caravan for Peace,” which from August 12th to September 12th, 2012, crossed the entire United States calling for an end to the war on drugs and bearing witness to the human rights nightmare unfolding in Mexico. Radio documentarian Chris Moore-Backman travelled with the caravan for 5 days, capturing the spirit and message of those on board, and examining the deep connection between the struggle for peace in Mexico and the struggle to end the racist system of mass incarceration in the United States. The show features a dialog between Michelle Alexander (author of “The New Jim Crow”) and Javier Sicilia (renowned Mexican poet and leader of the “Mexican Movement for Peace, with Justice and Dignity”). It also includes heartbreaking testimonies of mothers of victims of Mexico’s horrific drug war violence, and interviews with the U.S. and Mexican activists who launched this historic bi-national effort. A powerful testament to twin justice movements, which points to the crucial need for movement unity across races, and across borders.

Successful Book Donation to Vandalia Correctional Center Library (& I Met My First Paid Prison Librarian!)

Last month the 3 R’s Project (Reading Reduces Recidivism) was able to make a successful donation to Vandalia Correctional Center Library!

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Vandalia’s librarian, Steve, was able to travel to a collection site to pick out collected items to bring back to the correctional library. He picked out 135 books (61 non-fiction, the rest fiction) and 20 magazines. Fiction was mostly classics, science fiction, and popular fiction (ex: Patterson). What Steve was unable to bring back to the library with him was urban fiction (a highly requested genre) due to the hardship in being able to collection urban fiction in the community.

Being able to meet a PIC librarian was great! I could barely believe I had the chance to ask any question that I wanted to someone working in a PIC library! Steve was able to share examples of key issues in the library he maintains, circulation periods, collection development & weeding, and offer feedback on some of the issues I was struggling with. Meeting Steve provided confirmation that I was on the right path on preparing for and thinking about PIC librarianship and gave me that boost that was all sometimes need to work on our work a little harder. 🙂

Expanding Lifespan of Paperbacks in the Jail Library

Currently I’m working on a large project to improve our collections in our county jail libraries (I have soooo much Urban Fiction all over my living room) and I’ll post more about the project when were closer to implementing it.

Part of the project is to try to learn how to expand the lifespan of books in the library. Many school librarians have suggested that we use contact paper since we are only allowed to offer paperbacks.

Below is an awesome instructional video teaching how to place contact paper on paperbacks:

This technique has worked great so far. One thing that I found worked better was to fold and re-fold over a tiny part of a corner and rub it with your fingers in order to loosen the contact paper from the paper backing.

An unfortunate side of this is that our contact paper is easy to peel off. I could easily take a corner and peal it all the way across the cover. So, now we are looking at how we can place packing tape over the ends of the paper to seal the contact paper onto the inside cover or order the contact paper through Demco or Gaylord.