Hello everyone! Hope you all are doing well on this fine Labor Day. I wanted to let all of you know about an interesting book that just came out this past June titled The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison by Mikita Brottman. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but from what I can tell, it looks like a great new addition to prison library literature.
One of my colleagues recently started a book club at the prison she works at, and told me of the success that she’s had after her group read To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. Hearing about her successful book club made me experience a pang of jealousy. That’s the one thing that I didn’t do as a prison librarian that I regret not doing. I encourage you, if you have a state library that is willing to partner with your prison library to provide a large set of the same book to read, by all means contact them and have them supply you with a loan. They would be more than happy to help you achieve your goals!
Book clubs help prisoners in a variety of ways.
1.) They help bring a sense of community into the prison.
2.) They encourage free thought and expression.
3.) Book clubs explore different cultures and issues inmates may not have had a chance to experience before.
4.) They also promote higher thinking and cause and effect analysis.
5.) Book clubs raise awareness of social issues and allow inmates to explore them in a consequence-free environment.
Take the initiative and get out there and be a transformative librarian! I’ve never head of a prison book club that wasn’t successful. The inmates will be happy and appreciative, and so will the CO’s that have to interact with them.
P.S. think about getting prison staff to interact with the book club. Have the warden or a well respected case manager be a guest reader or participant. Not only will the inmates get a kick out of it, participation from prison staff shows another side to the staff person, one that the inmates can relate to.
P.S.S. Remember this month is Library Card Sign-up Month. Since prison libraries do not use library cards (at least I’ve never heard of any), use this month to create awareness of library services to both staff and inmates.
Remember, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org