U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Correctional Librarians: Providing Services By the Book

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 51 Issue: 7 Dated: (December 1989) Pages: 60,62,64
B Gordon
Date Published
3 pages
Correctional librarians spend fewer hours at the traditional jobs of a public librarian and more time dealing with inmates and their problems.
The isolated atmosphere of a prison also forces librarians to work hard to grow professionally and poses a dilemma to those hiring a correctional librarian, choosing between professional qualifications and personal characteristics. In general, correctional librarians are older and more experienced but less formally educated than their civilian counterparts. Although the salary is relatively high, the stress level and long hours account for a fairly short length of service. A sense of humor and ability to deal with violence, obscenities, and potentially dangerous behavior are essential. The correctional librarian, like other prison employees, must be fair, firm, and consistent in dealing with inmates. Although materials that threaten the institution's security may have to be censored, in general, reading and library use must be encouraged. However, the librarian must avoid giving legal advice to inmates; trained inmates or civilian paralegals can help them prepare documents. The librarian must also be ready to act as counselor, social worker, and ombudsman.