Monday, November 23, 2009

A Look at Wisconsin Department of Corrections Library System

Link to Commentary by Julie Wurl-Koth, Director of the Office of Program Services at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, in November 23 Green Bay Post-Gazette, "Books are flowing to prisons".

Excerpt: On behalf of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, I would like to clarify statements in the Nov. 16 article by Camy Matthay, "Keep books flowing to prisons."

Matthay's assertion, "Wisconsin is the only state banning used books to prisoners," is not supported by the facts. Publishers Weekly, a national trade publication, reported last year that numerous states utilize an approved vendor system for direct inmate book purchases, like the system Wisconsin uses. In addition, we do welcome used books in our prison libraries, where trained staff can receive the donations, review them in accordance with necessary protocols and then make the donated books available for any interested inmate to access.

We have 25 institution libraries that are staffed with professional librarians, teachers and other employees. The average institution library houses a collection of 8,000 to 10,000 books. In 2008 alone, our library system collectively circulated almost 900,000 materials, a number that exceeds the circulation of all of the libraries in many Wisconsin counties. Additionally, the majority of institutions maintain "satellite" reading collections on the housing units to encourage and promote reading.

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