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Library Services and Incarceration, with Jeanie Austin
CI226 Show Notes
In Circulating Ideas, Episode 226, I chatted with Jeanie Austin, Jail and Reentry Services Librarian with San Francisco Public Library and author of Library Services and Incarceration: Recognizing Barriers, Strengthening Access, about their path to librarianship, the history and present state of library service to incarcerated persons, and why libraries should focus on this group of patrons.
Get your own copy of the book!
Interview with Jeanie from Ithaka S+R.
ALA Resource Guide on resources available for and about prison libraries.
"When someone mentions a prison library, some might picture a small, dark room in the bowels of a prison, a weary librarian toiling among old and outdated material, prisoners creeping among the stacks, guards alert for any sign of trouble. At least, that is how I pictured a prison library. That was before I worked in one for two years."
In carrying out ALA’s mission “to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all,” the Association’s membership is called on to interrupt the systemic information poverty in our nation’s detention facilities.
The Impact of the Incarceration Crisis on America's Families
Combining proven inmate calling technologies with our patented technologies, Smart Communications has created a completely new universe of inmate communication in one platform.
Mailing free books to incarcerated individuals since 1973
ALA, the Appalachian Prison Book Project, and other groups are opposed to the rise of companies that charge incarcerated people fees to read free books on prison tablets and e-readers.
Jeanie discusses and recommends this film about prisons, potentially for library programming.
Re-Entry Programs in Libraries
Libraries and librarians are increasingly offerings services and support programs to ease prisoner reentry in the United States.
A New Jersey library program assists ex-prisoners with everything from making a FaceTime call to compiling job resources. It also helps them rebuild relationships when they come home.
Since 2018, SFPL's Jail and Reentry Services program has been providing dedicated library service to incarcerated adults. Through a partnership with the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office, JARS offers in-jail library service. JARS librarians also provide reference by mail and reentry support, and have been serving youth at the Juvenile Justice Center for almost 20 years.
The New Start Entrepreneurship Incubator (NSEI) is a six-month program designed to help community members who have served time in jail or prison create their own businesses. With this initiative, the Gwinnett County Public Library (GCPL) hopes to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with the tactics and tools to develop a small business and overcome barriers to professional success. Participants will receive assistance with developing business ideas, learn what is needed to run a successful business, and receive one on one support from successful entrepreneurs and business experts.
McCracken County Public Library in Paducah, Kentucky, has found a new way to reach people released from jails and prisons: re-entry toolkits, available for checkout, that help the newly freed access resources. The toolkits — created as part of the library’s American Dream Literacy Initiative grant — contain a Chromebook, Wi-Fi hotspot, flip phone and more.
Fresh Start @ Your Library began locally at the Long Branch (NJ) Public Library, providing community reentry support to individuals returning to communities after serving time in prison or jail. In the fall of 2019, the New Jersey State Library, with grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and in partnership with the New Jersey State Parole Board, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Long Branch Public Library, and Free Library of Philadelphia (PA), embarked on a project to scale up Fresh Start @ Your Library. Learn from members of the Fresh Start @ Your Library team, including social workers, and understand the steps they took to reach formerly incarcerated individuals and provide services to six communities through the public library. Hear about the critical importance of forging authentic connections with formerly incarcerated individuals to help determine what services are most needed, and the importance of building partnerships with local government agencies and nonprofit organizations. This on-demand webinar —the fifth in the Public Libraries: Partners in Workforce Development series—also explores the modifications to the original project plans imposed by the coronavirus pandemic and the lessons learned from the experience.
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