Sue Box, the librarian at Airway Heights Corrections Center sent us a great story the other day about a young man who is a clerk in the library. This is a position in the prison that is assigned for two years. Sue described it as a dream job for the library users because they are there every day and get to be the first to see, and check out, new items. (Do any of you relate to that?) In order to be chosen there are a number of “tests” that must be passed. Does the applicant have a high school diploma or GED, can they use the catalog, put things in call number order, and how will they respond well to customer service challenges. This young man likes working in the library so much that he turned down a chance to work for the Corrections Industry (CI) to stay working in the library. To understand what this choice means, in the library the clerks are paid 40 cents/hr. while the CI pays pay 65 cents-$1.75/hr. CI jobs can also provide useful experience for gaining employment upon release. In this case, he turned down the opportunity to work in the optical shop, which he knows could open doors when he leaves.
But, back to the story, Sue told us that when he arrived this young man knew nothing about plants. But when another clerk left and someone needed to tend the plants he stepped up and used the opportunity to learn. He has read every book in the library on the care of houseplants and takes this responsibility very seriously. Sue said he now knows more about plant care than she does. The picture is taken with his favorite plant and if you look at its health and vigor you can see that he has applied his lessons well. As Sue said, “It’s always interesting the sides of people you see in here that you didn’t think you would.” It looks like Sue has discovered a budding horticulturist, a side he may not have known about himself without this opportunity. One more story about how libraries open doors.