Merribeth Advocate, of the Mid-Hudson Library System and a former WebJunction Spanish Language Outreach trainer, conducted a workshop on November 2, 2007 for a group of librarians, teachers, and administrators from all seven of the state correctional facility libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System area. She described for me the workshop:
They met to discuss collection development, technology implementation and continuing education plans for the upcoming year. These libraries are currently serving a total resident population of over 8,600 inmates. Under the NYS Public Library System Services to State Correctional Facility Libraries Aid Program, MHLS works with the NYS Department of Corrections (DOCS) Library Services and the correctional facility librarians to supplement library services for inmates by providing them with broader access to library materials, services and the statewide library network. Representatives from DOCS Library Services discussed the installation of new computers in the correctional facility libraries that will be used for Follett cataloging and OPAC stations. Correctional facility libraries do not have access to the Internet, so rely on assistance for subject searches and reference questions that cannot be answered from their print collections. The Head of Reference and Adult Services from our Central Library attended in support of these reference needs. The MHLS Interlibrary Loan assistant and MHLS Outreach assistant participated in discussions about authors that are popular with inmates and trends in commonly requested materials.
Merribeth also shared with them a new WJ area, Services for Incarcerated People, and shared resources she had printed from there including the Library Aide Filing Test in Spanish and English and the Suggested Outreach Activities for Corrections Libraries. She also logged onto the WebJunction site, and showed them the resources they had available to them there. According to Merribeth, “they were visibly excited to see this resource compiled expressly for them.”
This reaction from the participants of the workshop is another example of what can happen when public libraries and library organizations reach out to their colleagues in corrections/prison library settings. Often, they have specialized needs that may or may not be met by resources targeted for public and academic libraries.