Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What do they read? isn't the important question...

When I give briefings to visitors to the library I am often asked 'what do they read?' and the cheap throw away answer is 'True Crime, of course'. The truth is that 'they' (the inmates) read everything that you do, except they can't go online and the Department of Corrections has a list of books and types of information that would be bad to have them read while in prison, mostly about security issues. I think the more important question is 'what do they steal from the library?'.

I mostly think that only stupid people steal from a free library inside a prison fence where they can never get it outside. But then the intelligence of some patrons is questioned in every library I have ever worked at, in response to their questioning mine or my co-workers', certainly. But back to what they steal, they start with stealing the sports section of the newspapers, for betting on fantasy football or other real events. They steal the colored pictures of beautiful models digitally enhanced, if not also under a plastic surgeon's care. Those things are easy to hide and pull out when one has forgotten what their sexual desires are focused on, needing refeshed. Some of the fancies are a bit stranger but I have purposely missed mentioning those.

The theft that is costly is of books, 'the self-weeding collection' as we in the prison libraries understand it, and the most popular ones are the ones that give them POWER. Robert Greene puts together a book, titled "The 48 Laws of Power" and it is immediately stolen. Yes, we do have a 3M security system and all the books are sensitized and how long do you think it takes them to figure it out? However it happens, the book is now gone, and we buy a replacement. Robert Greene comes out with another title "The Art of Seduction", and it is immediately stolen and I buy a replacement. Do you see the pattern here? He has a third book "33 Stategies of War" and we haven't seen it since the second circulation. I am buying all three in paperback and will read them and then donate them to the library, for they do have some excellent information that I have gleaned from a life time of reading, and Robert Greene found the same and put it together nicely. I expect they will also be stolen, for the inmates that steal from our libraries inside of prison have lost everything, feel no control of their lives and are afraid of most people and things around them. So they steal what they hope will make them stonger, and then don't read it, just hide it and hug it for warmth and feel it makes them a player again.

Kind of like those self improvement books, how to build one's abs - you can buy five or six of them - but until you start curling your body and flexing the core and working tirelessly in motion the abs don't change - not from hugging those books or putting them on the shelves, they must be read, practiced and re-read and understood. But then I did mention what kind of an inmate steals books, didn't I? Luckily most inmates just check the books out and return them very late, overdues abound, for inmates have a personal time that doesn't match the date due stamp - not very fair, most books come in on time or are re-newed, circulation is about seven thousand items per month, and I only have to replace the stuff that wears out or is lost. I only have about twenty books 'missing' in action a month. Write another one, Robert Greene.


Breda said...

very interesting!

You know what goes missing very often at our library? Astrology/witchcraft and business/management books. Weird, huh?


Happy Christmas!


leedolan said...

I always like the students who just tear out what they want/need for a paper instead of copying it. We do not have this problem at our school, however, because the students can copy to their hearts content for free. I have seen it done at the university libraries where I've worked, though.