New Library Book Repair Project at County Correctional Facility Highlighted at Open House; rogram Provides a Second Chance for Library Books and Inmates
Older, well-worn library books are finding new lives back on the shelves at Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) branches thanks to the helping hands of inmates working with the Library Book Repair Project at the County’s Correctional Facility (MCCF) in Clarksburg.
Under the Workforce Re-Entry project, inmates are trained by MCCF to professionally repair damaged books that can then be returned to circulation instead of being discarded from the system. MCCF is also funding the materials necessary for the pilot. Start-up supplies cost $3,300, and no additional costs have been incurred since the project began.
Inmates selected to participate in the program can earn “good time credit”toward reducing their sentence while acquiring new work skills.
Currently, books in need of repair will be taken to the MCCF from six MCPL branches– Kensington Park, Marilyn J. Praisner, Noyes (Children’s Library), Rockville Memorial, Silver Spring and Wheaton. The first boxes, delivered from Wheaton and Praisner branches in late April, contained a total of 42 books. MCCF staff reports that, on average, repair work takes from six to 10 days per box.
The most common problems encountered in book repairs are: broken or detached spines; pencil marks on pages; and ripped, loose or torn pages.
The program was the brainchild of Warden Rob Green who said he came up with the idea last year “in an attempt to reestablish our job shop and workforce development
programs inside the jail.” He had heard of a similar corrections-based program some years ago, but a recent check found no other currently in operation.
Green approached MCPL Director Parker Hamiltonwho agreed to participate with MCCF.
“Partnering with MCCF again was an easy decision to make,” Hamilton said. “We currently have an outstanding library at MCCF and through another component of the Re-Entry Project, every person leaving MCCF receives a library card valid for 60 days.
“This new program saves books and helps us maximize County funds. For example,”Hamiltonexplained, “in the first set of books sent to MCCF by one branch, the monetary value of repaired books was $415.52. The real value is the fact that the books are now back on the shelves and are being checked out again. Our staff members have called the repairs ‘perfect’ and‘fantastic.’”
Warden Green noted, “Collaborative partnerships like this provide the Detention Services Division an opportunity to give back to our community in very meaningful ways. The work skills learned by the participating inmates is essential to their return to a very challenging job market, while the in-kind service provided to our public libraries reflects real dollars in extending the life of the investment we make in books. It is a win/win”.
MCCF’s Re-Entry Unit Manager Gale Starkey and Workforce Supervisor Sgt. Gary Powell and many MCPL personnel “did the work to get it nailed down and running,” according to Green. He said, “Parker's staff created the entire process flow and tracking piece.”
Green calls it “simply a fantastic collaboration.”