Prisoners Ordered to Destroy Library Books (by Jack)

When I was working in the prison library, the Arizona Department of Corrections librarian decided that if a book hadn’t been checked out in a year we were to pull them off the shelf, tear them in half, and throw them away. We weren’t to replace them with anything, just destroy them. There were six inmate aides present when we were told to do this. Another aide and I said that this was wrong and we wouldn’t participate. We were told that if we didn’t we would be written up for failure to comply with orders and fired from our jobs. We both walked out. 

 
Jack is serving life without parole, and has terminal cancer. Throughout my incarceration, Jack was a positive influence. He encouraged me to keep writing, to enter short-story competitions, and we proofread for each other. Jack is seeking pen pals, so anyone interested please email me at attwood.shaun@hotmail.co.uk for his details.

Shaun Attwood

12 comments:

Ginger said...

That is so wrong, to destroy a book just because it hadn't been checked out especially if they aren't going to replace it with something new. I'm glad those guys stood up for what they believed in.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god this is absolutely dreadful!!! Good for Jack and his buddy for walking out! Hope all the others that get assigned to that job have the same strength of spirit to do the same!

Gab

Anonymous said...

Used to work at a prison library, now I'm at the public library. And guess what? The public library is far more likely to throw things away. At the prison, there's a drive to fix things. At the public library, there's usually a lot of copies of things in the system. And the just-a-bit-worn-out books go to the book sales to buy new material. Getting rid of things isn't done just to be a jerk or treat customers like crap, but because dead weight is dead weight. If shelf space is needed, a bit of ruthlessness becomes necessary. And not every book is precious, not every printed page is sacred, and not everything fits with the collection plans. The story you tell sounds like two guys didn't want their jobs anymore

Karki

Jon said...

but the books weren't being replaced like they are at a public library

Jon said...

and all books are precious and are sentient beings and have feelings and your comment just crushed the spirit of books worldwide

Anonymous said...

You haven't read Twilight or the 50 Shades of Grey, have you? I tried, but despair overcame me. Also, Debbie Macomber is pure evil.

Karki

Jon said...

good point

Anonymous said...

I'm a natural hoarder, but sometimes enough is enough.

Karki

Anonymous said...

it's a totally different thing a public library where people have access to bookshops, internet etc and where it makes sense to make shelf space as there are so many new books coming out all the time (which you know). To get rid of them in prison where it's the only resource available is a travesty - as you of all people can appreciate.

Gab

Anonymous said...

hmmm - books as sentient beings eh? Not sure on the literal accuracy of that, but I get the poetic sentiment either way, chucking books out of prison is 100% wrong. They should be putting more in if anything!! All reading is good reading as it all feeds into the next thing.... Every addict has to start somewhere, and even if the enabling product is something as trashy as Jackie Collins, it could still lead on to the hardcore excellence of Chekhov!

Gab

Anonymous said...

I'm all for keeping whatever there's space for, myself. But if there's going to be a process, there's going to be complaints. And if there's going to be complaints, there needs to be a process. It's circular logic that avoids the Big Questions, but at least it's an ethos (see The Big Lebowski, for the reference.) I can't truly defend the librarian because I wasn't there. And knowing one side of the story isn't usually the best way to see an issue and make judgments. I'm skeptical of things being that simple, though I have had my disagreements with how weeding is done on many occurrences at the prison, at a law school library, and also at the public library. At some point I'm like someone working at an animal shelter. Can't take them all home, can't find good homes for everything, so at some point there's just an end for some things.

Karki

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