Friday, December 7, 2007

Why a Library Keeper?

I like to think that a Library Keeper is like the old Lighthouse Keeper, providing light for safe navigation to wandering sailors looking for a successful voyage. They, always those that want to feel in charge, won't allow me to use that title on my business cards nor signature block for emails but then I am not exactly what they wanted in my position anyway. I ride the ferry across the sound to McNeil Island, to the prison (a Corrections Center by current thought) and I unlock the doors to the library, turn on the computers, enter the passwords, unlock the book return box, and greet the inmate library clerks as they wander in to work. During my forty hour work week I provide eighteen point seven five hours of library services and access to over a thousand inmate patrons, that may only pack forty in the library at a period, about one hour. Except for the inmates in Segregation and IMU we don't deliver, the patrons have to find time to visit the library for the materials they want to borrow. I do some reference for them if they send me a "kite", which is a form for communications between inmates and staff about their requests and thoughts. Most will visit the library, if they are readers and looking for self improvement or answers they will find the time and come in. The library is one of the places without any Department of Corrections staff stationed watching -- it becomes quickly recognized as a place of personal freedom, where they can meet buddies, find books and music and discuss things. This has to be one of the noisiest libraries I have ever worked at. So why am I here, well, I was fleeing women... no, that isn't totally true, they offered me full time employment in a library and I thought the job was important because I could make a difference. I have made a little difference, for those willing to work at it, but overall prisons only contain inmates well, making model citizens of them isn't going to happen for the rules inside a prison are set by the criminal elements, junior high morality and attitudes and lack of growth. I was very depressed by finding the prison not a corrections institution, no one is corrected just contained. Well, I have been corrected a few times, but then I respond to the corrections because I want to do a better job and am mature (I am really OLD) but you understand. I am seriously looking for other employment, but content enough with my position and the pay to stay unless something really great shows up (winning the Lotto would do it). The biggest reason to leave is the loneliness, for I am the only staff in the library all day (unless my superiors decide to find out what I am doing wrong and show up to tell me about it) and that really means all my buddies are convicted felons. Really the people I speak the most with daily, that I know about their lives and families, feelings and faults and foolishness (real buddies) are convicted felons. I indentify too easily with them, but then I do know that I am not really like them. Still, I keep the library open, do find materials for the patrons, answers to questions, encourage better behavior and opportunities and hope that once the patron leaves they will go out and do much better, visiting your public libraries for more growth and entertainment. Since I have run into some of them at my local library, I know it does happen. I guess I like being the Library Keeper and providing regular library services to those in need, lots of need. Oh, yeah, I can see it now, when I die I will take the job at the edge of Hell and provide library services for those in need in deed. Well, I have heard that I would be known by my close associates, and they are all felons.

1 comment:

Breda said...

a prison library! Now this should be interesting...I'm looking forward to reading the stories.