Friday, April 12, 2013

My Library Story



My Library Story

I decided I should make some kind of library related post, being that I am a librarian. I decided my first library post should include one of my favorite library stories, not a favorite book, but something that really happened which I was a part of. The second library system I worked for opened a small satellite library in the local Juvenile Detention facility. Teens between the ages of 12-18 would stay there anywhere from 3 days to 3 months as they waited for their trial dates. Teen librarians from our library would visit them every other week and stay for a few hours in order to see all the youth imprisoned there. This was a huge eye-opener for me. Just to get to the small detention center library, I had to be buzzed through about 5 locked doors. We had a strict protocol to follow on what types of clothes to wear and what we could and could not bring inside the facility with us. The teens could only come to the library in small groups, about 5-10 at a time, and the guards were always present. Occasionally teens would be shackled by the hands or feet, sometimes both. I visited regularly for two years. I would promote the books we had in the collection there, fiction and non-fiction titles. I would encourage them to plan ahead, think about their future and shared college, trade school and job information resources with them. I tried to be encouraging but always left wondering…did I make any difference? Did I get through to a single one of them? A year and a half after visiting regularly I got my answer. A young man and his grandmother came to the library. He recognized me, “Hey! You came to see me in prison! I remember you.” I found out that while in detention he had read the GED materials along with all the culinary career information he could find there. He remembered that I had talked about the other career resources we offered and came to visit and get started. He said he wanted to be a chef one day. His grandmother told me that he got out that morning and made her drive straight to the library. He told me he wanted to start studying immediately because he wasn’t going to go back to detention and was going to do something with his life. All of this is true and happened. This is a little insight into why I love my job. This is one of my favorite library stories. I know for a fact that libraries change lives.

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