by Sara Jessica Clarke
In “Outside and In: Services for People Impacted by Incarceration,” Chelsea Jordan-Makely and Jeanie Austin point out that although “access to reading materials is a lifeline for people who are incarcerated,” the reality is that “the needs of people in jails, prisons, and other detention centers often go overlooked” (para. 2). While their article focuses on the various library services offered for people detained in American correctional facilities, the need it highlights for information professionals to support the information needs of people within these facilities is equally relevant in the Canadian context.
Although the challenges encountered by institutional libraries to provide information access to inmates often goes under the radar, this is an issue that many LIS professionals and LIS students are aware of and often feel passionately about. This became evident to me while I was working on my MLIS at FIMS when discussions arose about ethics and information rights in various classes and when some of my peers undertook projects related to institutional librarianship. For example, in the most recent volume of Emerging Library and Information Perspectives (ELIP), Erica McKenzie wrote about a books-to-prison initiative that she undertook independently, and which was inspired by her desire to engage in a hands-on project that would support literacy within correctional facilities.
A recent workshop in the FIMS Graduate Library: Bookbinding for Inmates, with Regional Librarian Kelli Jerome
In October, we had a great student turnout to a workshop that was led by Regional Institutional Librarian, Kelli Jerome. In this workshop, Kelli, a recent graduate of FIMS’ MLIS program and a past Student Library Assistant at the FIMS Graduate Library, spoke about her work and the unique considerations that arise when developing collections for institutional libraries.
Institutional library collections are subject to regulations related to both the content and physical form of their materials. In terms of the physical materials, there is a requirement for hardcover books to be rebound with soft covers in order to eliminate pockets or gaps where contraband could be placed. Unfortunately, rebinding books takes time and resources that are frequently in low supply for institutional librarians. Due to the need for help rebinding in-demand books and the high-interest amongst LIS students in assisting with this work, a mutually beneficial partnership has come to fruition between Kelli and the FIMS Graduate Library.
During the workshop, Kelli instructed participants on how to properly remove the hard covers from donated books and rebind them with soft covers so that they can be added to institutional collections. By the end of the workshop, all in attendance were fully trained in the bookbinding process and had successfully rebound an entire cart of books! In addition to supporting institutional libraries, the workshop was a wonderful opportunity for FIMS LIS students to gain some hands-on volunteer experience and to work collaboratively in the library. It was lovely to be able to meet a number of new students for the first time and we truly appreciated everyone’s enthusiasm for helping with this project!
Upcoming Opportunities to Get Involved and “Bookbind to Unwind” at the FIMS Graduate Library
We received excellent feedback from students after the workshop and we plan to host regular bookbinding meet-ups in the library. Our next session will take place on Friday, November 12. All members of the FIMS Graduate community are welcome to attend. If you are interested in attending, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we will know how many participants to expect. All bookbinding materials will be supplied.
We have also prepared a Bookbind to Unwind Cart with all of the needed bookbinding supplies for students to use during library hours. If you need a break from course work and want to log some volunteer hours, just contact staff at the library’s service desk about using these materials. The cart is equipped with bookbinding instructions and library staff are also happy to answer any questions about this work.
Austin, C. J.-M. and D. J. (2021, September 8). Outside and In: Services for People Impacted By Incarceration. Library Journal. Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.libraryjournal.com?detailStory=Outside-and-In-Services-for-People-Impacted-By-Incarceration