Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg

Eugene Public Library

Running the BooksAs a job-seeking librarian who’s occasionally played with the idea of applying for prison librarian positions, I jumped on this book. Steinberg fell into prison librarianship and learned on the job both how to manage a prison library and how to interact with inmates. He made some mistakes (with both inmates and staff) and learned some hard lessons about human nature, growth, and compassion. This book is pretty compelling; funny in some places (maybe a bit too flip at times), poignant in others. You get to know some of the inmates through Steinberg’s eyes–or at least, as much as they allowed him to.

I do have to say I was astonished that he got the gig without ever having taken a basic librarianship course. He doesn’t mention anything about the learning curve he must have experienced with cataloging, collection development, etc. Just FYI to anyone who reads this book who…

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