Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Talking, taking time to talk, all day?

I rushed in to make my meeting with the Associate Superintendent for Programs - my liaison with DOC on McNeil Island. It is a monthly meeting and takes five to ten minutes and we catch up on where the Library is going and any DOC moves that might affect our operations. Music rooms are going into the old Hospital building far from us (hurray!) and the Law Library is moving into the large rooms out of their cramped dark very old area. The Associate Superintendent is much more organized than I will ever be and if I were to classify her, since I once walked against her in the race to get inside the gates and get to doing - I would say she is a type double AA personality, but I say that with a caution (I don't really know her) and that I think she does very well everything she does and that is good for us all.

Off to work and opening the library, greeting the crew, turning on the machines and the dog handler comes in, has his dog sniff around and he stops to talk to me and asks if he can get books from our library. I explain that for recreational reading we advise the staff to use their local public library since there is so much more out there than in here, BUT... we can certainly help find the books he is looking for. Seems a dog handler from another institution near Spokane told him to get a book on dog training from his local library (us!) and he was checking if that was alright. Certainly, bring me a title or area and I will look it up and see if we can help you. I have always like him and his dogs, the current one is really friendly.

All my packages from the mailroom have been torn open, they don't care about re-use of jiffy bags so they just tore them open, if it had been only one I would have blamed the USPS but it was all of them and I saw the pattern. Security to see what is coming in, could be drugs, cigarettes, or weapons - so we check, I actually have to open every package and I have to inspect and close all packages going out - the staff has to control what is flying through the mails, and I do, five to twenty packages in and out daily. The opening wasn't announced by a note like I would normally get with an inspection effort and I would mention that to the next folks coming in.

Seems that some inmate had bothered some woman, through a telephone call and a letter. When the woman complained to DOC about it, wondering why she had been selected and what was going to be done to protect her in the future, the Custody staff got on it. Investigation questioned the inmate, he said that the address and telephone number had come from the Library, of course. Except in our library the White Pages with residences are removed from the telephone books to prevent such predatory activity by offenders. And I showed the Assoicate Superintendent for Custody the telephone books, which he vigorously examined, the inside Captain and the I&I staff were looking and asking questions, too. The Library wasn't at fault and we were fine, although they may try to get all telephone books out of the library, Re-entry means needing a place to stay and a job to work at, and those business directories, churches and assistance centers are essential reference material.

I heard the telephone ringing in the locked librarian's office (no librarian present most workdays so I can keep it locked up), and I answer on my telephone. I am being asked some questions by a person about to write an article about prison libraries. This is fun I think, I will get in so much trouble for saying what I really think, but then I do manage to remind her that I do not represent the Office of the Secretary of State, the Washington State Library, the Institutional Library Services of the same, I can only represent me working at McNeil Island Corrections Center -- having made sure we understood that I was happy to talk about the library services in my institution, how important they are, how under appreciated we are by the Governor and legislature (well, they don't give us enough money), how the OSOS has approached for more funding and staff and open hours but other priorities seem to get in the way. That last is only rumbles of what we hear, the officials with the powers may not know the need, they certainly haven't my name and number. So I expound, answer questions and give her more words than she can write swiftly, but she has the idea, she knows where my blog is and can look for all my posts "prison library" and she says she will check back when she has more written up.

Ah, I haven't talked to so many people that aren't patrons in a day not like this. And I was open for almost five hours so I had my crew and the patron flow to care for and answer questions, do we have the March Madness bracket set yet? I don't know, I don't follow basketball, I just answer questions and look for answers about stuff I don't know. Famous 19th Century French author, woman with a man's name to write under - George... Sand? The day is full email, ILLs, yes, and I talked my head off. A good day at the prison library for all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"A good day"~nice to end a post with satisfaction and good to read in these days of turmoil and depressing news! Lovely tulip photo as well.
Cathy B