The Colorado Reentry Resources (CORR) mailing list is a new group available to Colorado library staff interested in promoting successful reentry for citizens returning from prisons, jails, and youth centers. It’s a space to share ideas, best practices, and resources as well as facilitate collaboration between public and prison libraries.
The goals for this mailing list are as follows:
Identify resources and services that address the reentry needs of recently returned citizens as well as potential ways to improve and expand these services
Discuss resource deficits in adult and juvenile prison libraries to determine how public libraries can supplement existing services in both state and private facilities
Share and review current projects serving both incarcerated and returning citizens
Brainstorm potential collaborative partnerships between libraries and community agencies that would address specific reentry needs
Gain a network of like-minded library staff to encourage resource pooling and share best practices
Colorado libraries reach their communities in many ways, including partnerships with local organizations and businesses. But has your library considered partnering with one of Colorado’s state-operated institutions? The residents of the state’s correctional facilities, mental health institutes, veterans’ community living centers, and youth services centers are often those who can most benefit from the services and resources your library offers. By creating partnerships with state-operated institutions in your area, you can have an impact on this special population in your community.
Ideas for Partnerships
Not sure where to begin when exploring a partnership with an institution? Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Introduce your library to institutional residents
Visit an institution to offer library card sign-ups and/or fine forgiveness to residents so they are more likely to use your services when they get out.
Materials checkout and delivery
This could be personal delivery, bookmobile service, or even a branch inside the institution!
Take book discussion groups, author visits, summer reading, and other programs you already do inside institutions, or tailor special programs to institutional residents’ needs. There is a strong need for programs on financial literacy, life skills, and technology use.
Offer video visits at your library so your patrons can virtually visit with family members who live in institutions, or help us start our new family literacy project in the Department of Corrections.
Some things to keep in mind
Partnering with a state-operated institution poses some unique challenges that you might not have encountered before, especially regarding safety and security. Don’t let these concerns discourage you—the rewards from working with institutional populations will probably surprise you.
Ask to speak directly with library staff or activities directors in institutions that you are interested in partnering with.
Safety is the top concern in most state-operated institutions. You will likely need advance permission to enter the building and prior approval for materials you want to bring in.
You may need to take special care in an institution, but it’s not as scary as what you might see on TV or movies. Trained staff will keep you safe, and you may have an opportunity to attend training for volunteers.
Those in institutions are often the most grateful patrons you can hope to meet. Volunteers who bring programs to institutions are regularly impressed by the intense interest and creativity shown by participants. You may find that serving them is your new passion!
Connect with Institutional Library Development
Do you already have a partnership in place with an institution? Or maybe you have a partnership idea but don’t know where to begin? The Institutional Library Development (ILD) team at the Colorado State Library would love to hear about your ideas and successes—drop them a line at Institutional_Libraries@cde.state.co.us. You can also visit the Institutional Library Development page for more information about ILD’s programs and services.
Visit ILD at CALCON17
The ILD team will be running the Colorado State Library booth at the Colorado Association of Libraries Conference (CALCON17) in Loveland, October 12-14. Stop by and say hi!
Bonus! CALCON Photo Contest
While you’re at CALCON17, enter the Colorado State Library’s photo contest for a chance to win a free registration to next year’s CALCON 2018.
Stop by the Colorado State Library’s booth to pick up a sticker for your conference water bottle.
Take a selfie with your water bottle and sticker, PLUS State Librarian Gene Hainer somewhere in the photo.
Upload your pic to Twitter with the hashtags #COCALCON17 and #WheresGene.
The winner will be randomly selected from all entries.
The Institutional Library Development Team used the funds to purchase new materials: DVDs that state prison librarians can use to create reentry-focused programming about vocational skills, parenting, healthy eating, succeeding during parole, and other topics.
Read more about how Colorado Correctional Libraries contribute to the reduction of recidivism.
The five audio recordings below were made by offenders in Rifle Correctional Center. Each reads this year’s One Book 4 Colorado selection, Giraffes Can’t Dance, by Giles Andreae, and illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees.
As many of you may know, the software the SWIFT program uses (VDX & ZPortal) will be discontinued in a few years. This means the SWIFT Interlibrary Loan program will continue, just with different software. We are exploring several interlibrary loan software solutions. We are not wedded to any specific ILL software, and are looking at all options. We are not only looking at replacement software – but are taking the opportunity to look at the present/future resource sharing landscape within the state to ensure that SWIFT 2.0 continues to provide services that reflect the needs of the Colorado library community.