Students Get Insight into Correctional Facilities Libraries

Students Get Insight into Correctional Facilities Libraries

The UI Library and Information Science Student Organization (LISSO) brought Stephanie Kassel to speak at its December meeting.

Kassel is the librarian at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center (IMCC)—better known as Oakdale Prison. In conjunction with the meeting, LISSO also hosted a book drive.

Kassel spoke about how the library at IMCC is run and what specific duties and challenges she has faced during her time working in corrections.

She started at IMCC in 1983 and has worked her way up to Activities Specialist II, which is under the Treatment department with services like religion and counseling at the Department of Corrections.

Included in prison activities are the library, the gym, art, and other special activities. Kassel works collaboratively with her co-workers and prisoners have some choice of which activity they will visit during their designated activity times.

IMCC was founded in 1967 to house prisoners close to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Now the facility houses medical, special needs and hospice prisoners as well as women and general population prisoners. In addition, it serves as a receiving facility for new offenders.

Kassel talked to students about getting a job with the state and suggested interested students look at openings through the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) in the state of Iowa.

She also spoke about library services including legal information and recreational materials and how services differ from a traditional library. She has to keep detailed records on legal photocopy requests and prisoners must sign in when at the library.

December 2010 LISSO Meeting
Prison Library Book DriveIMCC Speaker

Kassel said she rarely feels unsafe and that treating prisoners with professionalism and respect means they treat her with respect as well.

Since the prison library has little to no budget for new materials, LISSO members wanted to help out.

Kassel said prisoners prefer fiction to nonfiction. Other needs include DVDS (rated PG-13 or lower), CDs and Spanish language materials. Those wishing to donate still have a chance. Contact Gwen Persons or call IMCC if you are interested in donating. Materials with criminal sexual acts or security concerns such as construction, computers or electrical diagrams will not be accepted.