What Services Does the Library System Provide Correctional Facilities?

As per Article IV. “Services and Programs Provided by Public Library Systems” of the New York State Public Library System Services to State Correctional Facility Libraries State Aid Program:

The purpose of the program is to supplement library services and resources for incarcerated individuals in State correctional institutions by providing incarcerated individuals with broader access to library materials, services, and the statewide library network.

Funds are made available to public library systems to provide the system’s services to the correctional facility’s library and incarcerated individuals. The distribution of State aid funds for this program is based on the annually negotiated agreement between the parties regarding how the public library system’s resources may best be used to facilitate library service to incarcerated individuals.

DOCCS provides the basic annual budget for library staffing, acquisitions, and equipment for its general libraries. The Public Library System Services to State Correctional Facility Libraries State Aid Program is not intended to replace DOCCS’ responsibility to provide for the growth of the facility library program or as a substitute for basic library service and programs that each correctional facility provides for its incarcerated individuals.

Materials and equipment purchased through the program remain the property of the public library system, although the system may provide them to a correctional facility library on long-term loan. The library system and the correctional facility library negotiate responsibility for repairs and/or maintenance of these materials and equipment.

All negotiated plans for services are contingent on the public library system’s receipt of annual state aid funds for the program. The amount of funding is based on the budget approved by the State legislature and the governor. During the planning and negotiation phases, both parties may work with an estimated dollar amount based on the amount received by the library system during the previous year. Actual State aid amounts received by the library system and how they are spent are reported in the public library system’s annual report.

The funding for this program may not be used to purchase textbooks or manuals for academic education and vocational classes.

Some of the services that public library systems may provide include the following:

1. Interlibrary Loan and Reference Services:

Some of the most important system services to correctional facility libraries, ILL and reference services ensure access to system-wide collections and the statewide library network.

If correctional facility librarians do not have access to online searching tools and system catalogs, systems may have to handle ILL and reference requests from correctional facility libraries in a different manner from member library requests. The correctional facility libraries and the systems must ensure that requests are submitted and handled as efficiently as possible.

The systems and the correctional facility libraries will negotiate criteria for filling ILL requests from holdings within the system and for filling from outside the system.

It is common, while not required, to include in the negotiated plan a replacement policy and budget for lost ILL materials. Sometimes these expenses are covered by the incarcerated individuals’ funds, some through the correctional facility and some through the state aid program budget. Because incarcerated people are an outreach target population, systems may also consider use of Coordinated Outreach Program State Aid for ILL expenses.

The systems and the correctional facility libraries will negotiate criteria for filling reference requests that cannot be filled by the facility library. Reference requests are mediated by the correctional facility librarian before being sent to the system. Library systems and member libraries should not provide reference support directly to prisoners as DOCCS has criteria and procedures to follow regarding information which is being sent to incarcerated individuals. That process must involve the facility’s general library.

2. Special Formats:

Assistance with access to library materials in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, recorded and digital format for people with print-related and other sensorial disabilities is provided by the public library system.

3. Collection Development:

The system’s State aid funds may be used to assist the correctional facility librarian to purchase all types of library materials which supplement the collection of the correctional library. Consultation with the facility librarian regarding reader’s advisory resources; user needs assessment of the educational, cultural and recreational needs of incarcerated individuals; facility directives such as treatment or transition/re-entry; and resources for new readers or non-English readers ensures that the most-needed materials are purchased for long-term loan to the facility. Materials purchased with the system’s State aid funds remain the property of the public library system.

4. Cataloging and Processing:

The library system may provide cataloging and processing services for materials acquired for the correctional facility library either with program funds or with the facility’s library funds.

5. Consultant Services:

System consultant services may include: training programs, reading lists, identification and location of vendors for specialized materials, assistance with effective use of system resources, assistance with program development, workshops for incarcerated individuals, exhibits, advice on library management, operations, copyright compliance, etc.

6. Continuing Education:

Continuing education and specialized programs offered to system member libraries may also be useful to correctional facility librarians. Topics are designed to help correctional facility librarians maintain and develop professional skills, satisfy continuing education requirements for public librarian certification, and may include opportunities for professional conferences and travel when appropriate.

7. Programs:

Funds, resources and support may be available to correctional facility libraries for programs which encourage personal growth and learning by incarcerated individuals.

8. Additional system services may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Guides and directories to regional incarcerated individual transitional and re-entry services
  • Loan of rotating or deposit collections
  • Printing and graphic arts
  • Inclusion of correctional facility library holdings in the system’s union or online catalog
  • Technology support where appropriate

NOTE: Services noted under Section IV, items 1 – 8 are commonly carried out with funding from this State aid program. Those and other agreed-upon services and resources which directly impact library services to incarcerated individuals in State correctional facilities may be provided through this funding

Correctional Facilities CEFLS Provides Support To

  • Adirondack Correctional Facility
  • Bare Hill Correctional Facility
  • Clinton Correctional Facility (Main)
  • Franklin Correctional Facility
  • Upstate Correctional Facility