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Booklists - Open or Closed Access?

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Camden Tadhg
Camden Tadhg's picture
Booklists - Open or Closed Access?

Should the book database on LSYC be accessible to anyone who wants to see it or be accessible only to site members? Why?

Diana Reese
Transparency is *almost* always the best course of action

I feel the book database - all aspects of it - should be accessible to all. It will serve to educate others about the books that interest incarcerated young adults and that are potential life changers. It will also create awareness about the types of content that might be inappropriate. The "inappropriate" piece is dependent on the institution and what its criteria are. If LYSC provides thorough information on popular - especially controversial - books, the institution's decision to permit or censor the title will be made on solid information. And if there is an advocacy piece, e.g. "This title is especially recommended for those who have threatened suicide..," I think LYSC may grow to be *the* go-to site for objective information as well as a model for freedom to read. It may also encourage individuals to join LSYC and participate in creating the knowledge base - a really good thing.

ajcheney
*almost* ??

I'm interested in hearing your comments about the *almost* in your subject line. 

How will the booklists create awareness about types of content that might be inappropriate? 

I'm interested in developing an argument/presence that would have *US* be the authority on the criteria and in challenging the institutions as being the authority on reading materials.

I know this is a tall order and goes against the whole fundamental necessity and reality of us being a guest in their house, and I am not advocating this to a person first coming in to an institution. I am talking about best practices, and establishing ourselves on a national level as the go-to authority. 

One of the ways I am personally beginning this is to present at a conference in Las Vegas: at the National Partnership for Juvenile Services in October. 

What if we promoted ourselves, libraries and services as best practices and utilized our site for librarians to get up to speed on serving these communities and using our expertise in establishing libraries in facilities across the country? 
 
Would this (what I am saying above) mean that we have open or limited access to the booklists? 
 
(part of this comment is more musings on my musing comments below).....
ajcheney
yes, thanks Diana,I totally

yes, thanks Diana,I totally agree with this: If LYSC provides thorough information on popular - especially controversial - books, the institution's decision to permit or censor the title will be made on solid information. And if there is an advocacy piece, e.g. "This title is especially recommended for those who have threatened suicide..," I think LYSC may grow to be *the* go-to site for objective information as well as a model for freedom to read.

It would be amazing if administrators at institutions would actually *read* and decide based upon their reading! 

and I think we would all love this:

 I think LYSC may grow to be *the* go-to site for objective information as well as a model for freedom to read. It may also encourage individuals to join LSYC and participate in creating the knowledge base - a really good thing.

 Still curious about your "almost" though... 

KellyKnudsen
book database should be open to anyone

I believe the book database should be open to anyone because why shouldn't it be? I cannot think of one reason to keep a list of book titles from those who are interested in helping young, incarcerated youth reading books that will spark their interest and desire to read more. To keep a book list from the general public is really kind of silly!

Anne Lotito-Schuh
In Agreement with Diana Reese

I've been trying to think of a good reason for the list to be closed, and haven't come up with anything compelling enough to counter the case for the list to be open. I would hope that others find the list, use the list, and are compelled to join LSYC and contribute to the list.

Camden Tadhg
Camden Tadhg's picture
List should be open

I believe the concern people have had is that facility administrators will find the list, with the potential problem areas marked, and use it as a "to be censored" list.  However, I agree that the lists should be open.  I would argue that similar lists which would be just as easy to use as "to be censored" lists already exist and are accessible to the public.  And one of the central reasons that I want the lists open is to use this resource as an argument in censorship battles, to show that a national organization has recommended this title and it isn't just your local "crazy left-wing librarian with a mohawk" that thinks it is appropriate to the correctional setting.

ajcheney
open or closed

Some of my musings....

I have had several experiences of probation and others coming in to my facility, writing all the book titles down and then opening their "library" without a librarian, selection process or even a connection to a library. I feel we should advocate for librarians AND books in juvenile halls in order to create sustainability. There are too many programs run on a volunteer basis that do not create the standards and/or sustainability that we would all hope for our youth. Is there a service component? a plan? Is there a plan to actually impact the youth and their reading? With all the money that probation has, if there isn't, this is criminal.

Does open access of our list contribute to the above? Does it really matter if books - and good ones are getting into the facility? If the volunteer or non-librarian uses these lists? Maybe what I am saying isn't making sense, as having the book lists would at least insure that GOOD books are in there. I think it does. Is there a service

One of my concerns is mainly about the subject headings. I feel these are extremely useful to us who are working in the field but can be misinterpreted. In the book lists I have created over the years I have used the subject headings that I believe are now transfered over to the site (i.e. abuse, gangs, drugs). These subject headings are the ones that in my experience our kids want to read about and ask for. Whenever I would give out my booklist I have a verbal and/or email conversation with people to let them know that the subject headings are in the language of the youth, as well as some of what my philosophy is around books, reading and reluctant readers. Perhaps we could develop this statement that we then put on the book list pages.

Most librarians didn't need this, but some administrators, therapists, educators etc really needed this explanation in order to make sense of the subject headings and not to have their knee jerk reaction. for example, a long way gone by ishmael beah is under the subject heading "gangs" as I believe that books satisfies the requirements that kids who ask about "gangs" are looking for (action, killing, violence, loss, groups of people banding together and creating family, the difficulty of separating from that group, etc). I think ishmael's book, writing and experience holds up to the highest of scrutinies by those who would not want "those kind of books" in our facilities.

I have worked with a teacher that really bristled at how I spoke to the youth and answered their reference questions. for example, I'd get a question about a book with "lots of killing in it" when I had her read Ishmael's book as an example of the conversation I felt I was having with the kids, she got it. It's about books, reading, relevance and responsibility.

I really like what camden says above in terms of us becoming a best practice for Juvenile facilities and creating national standards and resources. we need more than our booklists to do this, and more than direct access to the booklists in order to implement so, just like I said above - statements of purpose/intention etc that we create is ideal.

I personally think that until we have this established we should consider having our booklists open to librarians only. At least that's what I'm thinking right now.

Rene Hohls
If LSYC had a motto....

... it could be:

READING,

RELEVANCE, 

and RESPONSIBILITY

Rene Hohls
Lists should be open

I believe any lists we assemble or find in other sources and want to share should be kept available for open access. Anyone looking for that type of resource in the first place is someone we want to be able to assist and potentially someone who might be interested in working with us in this group. I would hate for them to NOT find something as useful as a book list.

ajcheney
has anyone experienced what I

has anyone experienced what I am talking about? Probation hiring a "librarian" from their ranks? I have seen probation in charge of a "reading and homework hour" and they have no training on books, reading, teaching kids to read, or the research that shows that having untrained people work with teens can be and most often IS, detrimental to their reading.....  

Camden Tadhg
Camden Tadhg's picture
This is actually a big part

This is actually a big part of why I'm concerned about this locking down the list idea.  Three of my on-site staff are technically officers (Safety & Security Officers or Safety & Security Supervisors in our system) and I fear these kinds of rules would leave those folks out.  I don't have any onsite folks whose library training goes beyond what I (or other people in my job) have provided over the years, but the library staff who are employed in safety & security do every bit as good work as the ones who are employed by education (whether they are teachers, principals, or administrative assistants). 

 

While I'd love to have a certified school media specialist in every one of my facilities and I'll advocate for it until I'm blue in the face, realistically, even I don't think it's cost effective to hire a full-time certified school media specialist to run the library in a 19 bed facility that only has 2 teachers.  So, given those conditions, I prefer to judge someone's suitability to run the library based on their passion, willingness to learn, and ability to advocate for the youth, rather than on the job class they're currently occupying.  My longest standing library staff person for the Div of Youth Corrections Facilities is a Safety & Security Day Shift Supervisor, right under the Assistant Director, and she has a history of taking on and transforming struggling libraries in whatever facility she works in.

 

If we lock down these lists, who gets to decide who is and who is not an appropriate person to access the information?

Kathleen Houlihan
Information wants to be free....

 

I say leave them open... I can't come up with any compelling reasons for locking them down, and the reasons for leaving them open -- for students, for nonprofessionals, for parents, for kids! -- seem to be so strong. 
 
Let them be free...
 

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