INFO 282-10
Seminar in Library Management: The Prison's Library–Managing the Unimaginable
Summer 2021 Syllabus 

William David Mongelli, MLS

Syllabus Links
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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 1st, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.


Apart from the email link above, here are some other ways to stay in touch with me:

Work Phone: (508) 285-7178

Best times to call:  Monday-Friday /10:30 am-5:30 pm PST
Please don’t hesitate to call me with any Course questions you may have. 

NOTE: Because you are receiving instruction from a working prison's Librarian, it is quite likely that when you call I'll be away from my desk helping a library user.  In this case, please leave your number & question, and I'll call you as soon as I can.

“Please Advise!” Forum
In the corrections racket, we send each other lots of memos.  When we need an answer to a perplexing problem, at the end of the memo we type: "Please advise."  Accordingly, I ask you to please post general questions about course logistics or content in our “Please Advise!” discussion forum.  This is where you can find my responses to your queries regarding assignments, due dates, readings, resources, etc.  I will check here several times a day and post answers as needed.

Course Description

Prison Library Management examines the history, methods, and underlying correctional theory of prison librarianship, and how these are applied when managing collections, inmate clerks, and inmate patrons.

Each week, students will examine one (or more) of the 14 guiding principles of effective prison library management (see Course Schedule below). 

Course Requirements

Course Assignment Details

Group Work:  "Service Models:  Pros & Cons" (20%, supports CLO#1, CLO #2, CLO #3). As information professionals working in a correctional environment, we discover that an uneasy tension exists between the public library model of service and the therapeutic model of service defining the needs of prisoners and dictates of prison operations. 

  • Students will be placed into two groups, with each group assigned a Service Model.  Each Group will consider the strengths and weaknesses of their Service Model in light of the management principles discussed in the course.  
  • Each Group will submit an 8-10 page paper (APA style), citing the course text and at least three (3) sources outside of the course readings
  • Grading will be based on Dr. Ken Haycock's innovative grading rubric for group work; in other words, each student will receive their own grade based on participation, cooperation, intellectual integrity, and other group dynamics.  These mid-term papers are due on or before (please refer to the Course Schedule table below).

Case Studies: "Managing the Unimaginable" (20%, supports CLO#1, CLO #2, CLO #3). Students will be presented with two case studies, each representing problems that they could face as a Prison Librarian. 

  • Students will choose one of these and then apply as many or all of the management principles they have examined throughout the course to resolve the problem posed in the case study.  
  • Each student will submit a five-page paper (APA style), citing the course text and at least three (3) sources outside of the course readings.  This persuasive essay is due on or before (please refer to the Course Schedule table below).

Required Readings (20%, supports CLO #1). Reading assignments are an integral part of this course, as they work hand-in-hand with our Discussions to facilitate engaging, topic-related class participation. 

  • Apart from the required texts, this course has additional required readings associated with the various Canvas modules.

Weekly Discussion Forums (20%, supports CLO #2, CLO #3). Each week, at 11:59 PM Sunday night, the system will unlock a new Discussion forum.  Each Discussion poses a question that is based on its corresponding management principle and the associated required readings. 

  • Sharing ideas and opinions and generating lively debate is imperative to learning as much as you can about the management of prison libraries, and so merits a reward equal to my other expectations of you.  I will have a daily presence in these Discussions, reviewing your posts, and responding accordingly.  
  • Please refer to the Course Schedule table below.  Each Discussion Forum has the same Rubric that you can use to measure your participation.  

Fieldwork: "A Day in the Life" (20%, supports CLO #2, CLO #3). Each student will be provided with access to the Directory of Prison Librarians, and be required to develop a series of management questions to ask a working prison Librarian.  You may conduct this Librarian interview via email, phone, or in-person.  

  • Although not required, I urge you to secure a prison tour and conduct a personal interview.  If you secure a face-2-face interview inside of a prison, I will add an additional 10% to your overall grade.  Because of the logistics of getting approval for a prison tour, and simply finding a willing Librarian to interview, I urge you to get started on this assignment immediately.  The sooner you secure an interview subject, the better.  Do not procrastinate. 
  • In order to receive credit for this assignment, the Librarian's name and work contact (phone or email) MUST be submitted along with the written interview.  Thoughtful, well-written interviews are due on or before (please refer to the Course Schedule table below). 

Recommended Textbook

(in addition to required textbooks listed below):

  • Correctional Theory: Context and Consequences (2nd edition) by Francis T. Cullen & Cheryl Jonson.  Available through Amazon ISBN-13: 978-1506306520


Percentage Weight Assigned To Class Assignments:

Required Course Readings


Group Work: "Service Models: Pro & Cons


Prison Librarian Interview: "A Day In The Life"


Weekly Discussion Forums Participation


Case Studies: "Managing the Unimaginable"


Grading Penalties: Late Work/ Missed Assignments

Due Dates
Due dates are imposed upon you for sound, rational, and relevant reasons.  That’s why you shall (‘shall’ is what we legal research swells call ‘mandatory language’) submit your assignments by the posted due dates.  I do understand, of course, that Life sometimes throws us a curve we can’t hit.  If you cannot meet a deadline, you must satisfy these two (2) requirements:

  • Notify me at least 48 hours before the assignment due date; and
  • Give me one legitimate reason why the submission must be late. I am the final arbiter of whether the reason you give is 'legitimate.'

Assignment Submissions
My assumption always is that each person taking my course is a properly-disciplined graduate student who is eager to learn about corrections and correctional library services.  Rest assured, you have plenty of time for readings, Discussion postings, research, writing, and assignment submissions.  No one should fail to submit any assignment.  If you do, you must be graded accordingly.

Course Schedule

Content Caveat.  I reserve the right to make reasonable changes to this course schedule and assignments, but I will always notify you.


DISCUSSION TOPICS Assignments and Due Dates

June 1-6

Lesson 1


Lesson 2



  • Introduction to the 14 Management Principles


  • Deprivation/Socialization: Walking the Correctional Tight-Rope 


Discussion One

Due June 6


Discussion Two

Due June 6

June  7-13


Lesson 3   



Prison Library Roles:

What Administrators Expect of the LIBRARY



Discussion Three

Due June 13 

June 14-20


Lesson 4 


Prison Librarian Roles:

What Administrators Expect of YOU


 Discussion Four

Due June 20

June 21-Jun 27


Lesson 5


Lesson 6






  • Service Philosophy: Whose library is it?


  • Transformative Materials Selection and Criminogenic Needs 





Discussion Five

Due June 27

June 28-July 4


Lesson 7



Serving the Incarcerated:

The Ever-Popular Librarian-Inmate Love/Hate Effect



Discussion Six

Due July 4


July 5-11



Lesson 8




Prison Law Libraries:

Helping the Helpless to Help Themselves


Discussion  Seven

Due July 11



"Pros & Cons"

Due July 12

July 12-18



Lesson 9



Lesson 10




  • "Your class changed my life:" 
The Prison's Library as an Agent of Therapeutic Change   



  • Occupational Humor in the Correctional Environment





Discussion Eight

Due July 18


Discussion Nine

Due  July 18


CASE STUDIES: "Managing the Unimaginable"

Due on or before July 19

Jul 19-25



Lesson 11



"You're only as good as the good people you have:" 

The Care & Feeding of Inmate Library Clerks




Discussion Ten

Due July 25

Jul 26-Aug 1


Lesson 12



Self-Discovery: What Prisons Teach You About You



Discussion Eleven

Due Aug 1

August 2-6


Lesson 13



Lesson 14




  • Prison Librarian's Mantra: "Corrections 1st, Librarianship 2nd"



  • Correctional Officers:  Can't Do Your Job Without 'Em





Discussion Twelve

Due August  6


Discussion Thirteen

Due August 6


FIELD WORK: "A Day in the Life"

Due on or before August 6 

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 200, INFO 204

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and explain therapeutic and public library models of correctional librarianship.
  2. Describe the managerial challenges that each special needs group presents in a correctional environment.
  3. Explain how modern correctional libraries are operated, what therapeutic programming is offered, and how the librarian and library are perceived by security personnel.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 282 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  2. D Apply the fundamental principles of planning, management, marketing, and advocacy.


Required Textbooks:

  • Conrad, S. (2017). Prison librarianship policy and practice. McFarland. Available through Amazon: 1476666334.arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Schmidt, C. (2017). If you don't laugh you'll cry. University of Wisconsin Press. Available through Amazon: 0299313506arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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