Thursday, July 20, 2006

Visiting the library at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility

My hat goes off to librarians who work in correctional facilities! They are certainly courageous and deal with issues that the rest of us will never face. In addition they operate on the most frugal of budgets and with the most limited internet access.
Kate Field invited me to tour the corrections library at Hutchinson this week, and it was an experience that I will not forget. The sound of bars slamming shut after us as we entered the prison was disconcerting to me, but Kate took it all in stride as we talked and toured the facility. Because of many rules about what certain prisoners can read, she has formidable collection development challenges. There were computers in the library, but none could access the internet, and Kate has to enter a locked office in another part of the prison in order to do email or interlibrary loan. The bulk of her materials budget goes to an intranet version of Lexis-Nexus developed by that company specifically for prison access. The library was airconditioned, but the majority of the prison is not, which was quite noticeable on the 105 degree day we chose to tour!
Despite the challenges she faces in providing library service, Kate has a great attitude and is upbeat. And it was evident that the library is one of the most pleasant places in the facility, and well used. Thank you, Kate, for the tour and for your outstanding library service!

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