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#NYLA2020 : Part 2 - Notes from the on-demand sessions I watched

The NYLA Annual Conferences included 32 on-demand sessions, which are available to participants through Dec. 31, 2020.  Below is the second of several blog posts of things that stood out to me from the on-demand sessions I watched.

Congrats! You’re a Prison Librarian – Now What?

Program Description: A panel of correctional facility librarians will share their experiences and how they are able to succeed at their job. Topics will include but are not limited to collection development, working with other facility staff, and programming. Leave the session feeling re-energized and ready to tackle the daily challenges that come with working in a correctional facility.

Program Speaker:  

  • Melinda Appleby, Senior Librarian, Willard Drug Treatment Campus
  • Matthew Cassidy, Senior Librarian, Woodburn Correctional Facility
  • Diego Sandoval-Hernandez, Correctional Services Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Andrea Snyder, Pioneer Library System (Moderator)

Brief Notes: 

  • Willard Drug Treatment Campus and Woodburn Correctional Facility are part of the NYS Department of Corrections. 
  • The speakers began by giving an overview of the facilities they work in/with and then talked about what they wish they had known when they took a position in/with a prison.
  • Cassidy gave an overview of the restrictions they work under in these facilities, e.g, no phones or smartwatches, no Internet access, limited "Internet" access for the incarcerated people through specific devices.
  • Sandoval-Hernandez gave an overview of what going through security is like at Rikers Island (part of the NYC jail complex). He goes through several security checkpoints during his day.  He noted later that most of his patrons at serving shorter sentences or are pre-sentence. This means that this facilities have  a high turnover.  This also means that books often go missing, because people leave quickly.
  • Appleby talked about what typical day is like for her. Some of her day is serving classes that come in (incarcerated people working towards their Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC™) [formerly known as the General Educational Development (GED®)].  
  • Cassidy also talked about his typical day. His library is in the same building as the classrooms and a gym.
  • Appleby's facility is a 90-day program. Because of that, she does not do active programming, but does do passive programming.
  • A program that Sandoval-Hernandez and his team does is "Daddy and Me." They work with parents who are incarcerated and do early literacy training. They are then recorded reading a children's book. They invite the family with kids to come in (if possible) and hear the story. The kids leave with the book and the recorded story. If the family cannot come, the book and recording are sent to the family.
  • Cassidy has done reading groups using public domain books that the incarcerated have access to on their tablets. Because they are public domain books, family members on the outside can read the same books.
  • Snyder noted that in non-pandemic times her system provides books through interlibrary loan to the facilities in her region.
  • They talked about collection development for their libraries/patrons.
  • Cassidy recommended The Prison Library Primer: A Program for the Twenty-First Century (2009).
  • Both Cassidy and Appleby have a background in security.
  • Cassidy encourages any librarian, who is interested in helping others, to consider prison librarianship.  He said it is incredibly rewarding to connect the incarcerated in these isolated communities with the information that they need. Sandoval-Hernandez noted that there are many other opportunities to volunteer in jails and prisons, and make a difference.

Organizing Media Literacy Activities for Prison Libraries

Program Description: Correctional facility libraries are critical sites for adult Media Literacy education.  United States correctional facilities house nearly a quarter of the world's prison population, many of whom are released after decades-long sentences into a society whose patterns of media engagement are distressingly different from the media landscapes they experienced prior to their periods of incarceration. Over the past three years, more than a dozen graphic novel-based media literacy education program sessions have been successfully conducted within New York State maximum and medium-security prison libraries.  The goal of this presentation is to share information about how these sessions were conducted and explore ways media literacy advocates and prison librarians can organize and facilitate graphic novel-based media literacy activities.

Program Speakers: Drew Emanuel Berkowitz, Ph.D.

Brief Notes:
  • He is interested in media literacy using fiction. His dissertation was How is Fanfiction Framed for Literacy Education Practitioner Periodical Audiences : Media Frame Analysis. He is the author of Framing School Violence and Bullying in Young Adult Manga: Fictional Perspectives on a Pedagogical Problem (2020).
  • Those who are incarcerated need to understand how the media (not just TV as media) has changed.
  • Media literacy in a correctional facility is often taught by simulating what is occurring outside of the facility. However, simulating does not provide the full experience. For example, you cannot simulate all of the aspects of a blogging environment.
  • In a correctional facility there can be restrictions to your pedagogy. You will not, for example, have the same tools available to you.
  • Berkowitz questions what the definition of a graphic novel is. Some are quite serious (e.g., From Hell), which others are more like traditional comic books.
  • He noted that facilities have content guidelines, which can limit what you are able to use with incarcerated people. The visual component may cause a work to not be allowed, but the non-graphic novel version may be permitted.  Very interesting to think about using Watchmen (e.g., Absolute Watchmen) versus Walking Dead, both in graphic novel form. One is more real life, while the other is fantasy with zombies.
  • My takeaways from this presentation are:
    • There is a wide variety of works that fall under the heading of graphic novel.
    • Graphic novels can help someone learn about and understand a topic in a different way. 
    • Because of the appeal of graphic novels, some people may learn about a topic that they would not have otherwise. Berkowtiz, for example, noted that most men have not read a novel about the lives of teenage girls.  A graphic novel could be a way of providing that perspective.
    • Part of what can be discussed about a graphic novel is its point of view. In other words, if it is fan faction, what make it different than the original? What is that point of view trying to teach us or get us to think about?
    • When you use graphic novels in a correctional facility, you need to be flexible. While you may not be able to use the work you wanted, you may find that you can use something else.

Visualizing A More Dynamic Annual Report

Program Description: It is vital, and sometimes mandated, for organizations to produce a document that shows how they are spending money and distributing their resources. Producing a comprehensive Report of the library's yearly activity need not be an arduous task, and need not become the dreaded "wall of text." Thanks to modern, inexpensive publishing tools such as Canva, it is possible to create attractive and informative documents - even on a shoestring budget. Well-visualized data can be used for conveying information to key stakeholders such as: elected officials, patrons, and your wider community. In this workshop, we will talk about best practices for turning data points into visuals, software for creative reports, and printing options for the final product.

Program Speaker: Carolyn Bennett Glauda, Southeastern NY Library Resources Council

Brief Notes:

  • Very good presentation for getting you to consider what should go into your annual report and how they might look. It is good to think about what should be in your report, rather continuing to do what you have always done. She quickly reviewed a view tools and showed some reports that she liked.
  • She has been creating the reports with SNYLRC since 2012.
  • An annual report is a document for stakeholders that chronicles the past year.  It can include narrative of the organization's activities, making use of graphics and charts.  It contains detailed financial and operation information. This is different than the annual report your library might submit to the State Library.
  • Questions:
    • Who are your stakeholders?  Make a list of your target audiences, which might include the board, elected officials, future employees, voters, or donors.  You can be specific or general.
    • What do you want to highlight? What were the big events of the year? What made this year special? What are you proud to share with your stakeholders?
    • Where are you publishing this? In paper? Handed out? Emailed? Where will you keep archival copies? Where can you publish it so it is seen to more stakeholders? Do you need multiple formats?
  • Think about what things are worth, rather than what they cost. Convey value, rather than where you spent money.
  • Include data which your audience cares about the most, then connect it to a story. How did it change a life?
  • What was your best work in the year? Let that shine through. Keep track of your wins and successes.
  • Find your best images/photos from the year.
  • Make decisions on how you will publish. Online? Print? Hybrid?  How big do you want it to be? Do you need a shorter version for specific populations?
  • It is okay to look at other people's reports and see what they did for inspiration.
  • Resources:
    • Librarian Design Share
    • Library Girl's List of Annual Reports (spreadsheet)
    • SNYLRC 2019 Annual Report
    • Teaneck Public Library 2018 Annual Report
      • Harford County (MD) Public Library 2018 Annual Report
      • One-page version
      • Multiple page version
    • Caroline County (MD) Annual Reports
    • Houston Community College Libraries Statistics Dashboard
    • Data Visualization Catalogue


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#NYLA2020 : Part 2 - Notes from the on-demand sessions I watched

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