I’ve spent most of this week in the American Library Association Archives, sifting through information about library services and incarceration. I started around 1950 and am moving my way forward to the present (sorry for the deep history buffs! Maybe I’ll return; or maybe that is a project for someone else!).
I’ve found some events that aren’t recorded in the timeline that will be published with my book. Here is a preliminary summary of a few, for the record:
- A 1976 ALA Resolution on Service to Detention Facilities and Jails, which likely led to the formation of the National Institute on Improving Jail Library Services. The Resolution is available here.
- A survey of library services to local institutions that took place through the late 1970s and was published by ALA in 1980.
- A 1980 replication of a 1938 survey of library services in the federal Bureau of Prisons. Among other highlights, the survey report, which was made available in 1982, was condemned by the BOP for the “negative, belligerent” tone of recommendations.
As I continue to review the materials I’ve digitized on this trip, I’m hoping to find more information about the tensions between the American Correctional Association (ACA) and the American Library Association (ALA) regarding the inclusion of a Prisoners’ Right to Read statement in the 1980s version of the Library Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions. So far I’ve only located passing references to a “current controversy over accreditation standards of libraries in prisons.”
As a reminder, much of my interest in surveys aligns with the open survey on Library Services and Incarceration.
Update 1/9/22: Richard Miller’s 1982 article on institutional library standards briefly discusses the coordinated work of ACA and ALA on the 1975 Library Standards for Juvenile Correctional Institutions as “nothing short of a major coup, because a nonlibrary organization joined with ALA to issue library standards.” There is mention of the effort for a joint revision of the adult standards as, “bogged down when ACA decided to make changes in its accreditation process.” Miller expand on this–
Miller, R. T. (1982). Standards for library services to people in institutions. Library Trends, 31, 109–124.