Wednesday, March 25, 2009

High output librarians, low input funding!

You have to laugh, so as not to weep and wail. 

The jails library service runs on a shoestring, due to incredible public participation via donation and student volunteers who help us process the books. It also has a fairly reliable funding source: the surcharge on commissary items at the jail. As long as people are sentenced to jail, buy items from commissary while they're incarcerated and demand access to books, we're in business. That means the library can pay for some hot new books and the staff to buy, pack, deliver and retrieve them after they are read.

But what about other kinds of library programs? One of the jails team is a grad student in library school and gets to hear the latest buzz from students around the state of California. Funding puddles are drying up. For some reason, libraries are never irrigated in the proper way. They are not guaranteed a flow from the source high in our intellectual mountains. Why is such scarcity the prevailing model in such an incredibly diverse mental landscape? Why does California not commit itself to economic and intellectual growth!

In a posting to a fellow library school student, I wrote:

May the funding roll in!! Part of recovering from the Pete Wilson cutbacks in 1993 was to adopt an "abundance" over "scarcity" philosophy. If citizens start to feel surrounded by riches--not expensive luxuries--but beautiful necessities, the economy will improve. The stingy people will move back into the background where they always live, profiting from doom and gloom. Let the generous, transformative people (like Eleanor Roosevelt)...
           take charge.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Life is good in Jail when...

a Deputy convinces an inmate to read Kurt Vonnegut;

some pod workers tell the librarian she's "a bright light" when she arrives with the new books;

a citizen of the county shares his life-time collection of National Geographics (in mo/yr order!) for inmates who love 'em;

British "Bad Girl" actress, Debra Stephenson, does time at our facility for a documentary on incarceration and donates books to the real inmates she had to leave behind;

American stars shine just as brightly when Jada Pinkett Smith sends a donation of magazines!

Life is good when the right book gets into the right person's hands.