INFO 282-10
Seminar in Library Management

The Prison's Library–Managing the Unimaginable

Summer 2022 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.

Communication. Apart from the email link above, other ways to stay in touch with me are listed below and also found in the course module 

Phone. [will be provided within Canvas].  Best times to call:  Monday-Friday /10:30 am-5:30 pm PST.  Call me with any Course questions that are not readily answered from within our course site. 

“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.  I will check here at least once per day and post answers as needed regarding assignments, due dates, readings, resources, etc. 

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, inmate patrons, and providing services to a specific inmate population.  Each week students will examine one of the guiding principles of effective prison library management (see discussion topics in Course Schedule below). 

Course Requirements

Course Assignment Details

Course Project:  "Designing Prison Library Services" (40%, supports CLO#1, CLO #2, CLO #3)

Students are required to write a narrative plan covering the first year from hire for library services to a specific state or Federal Department of Correction.  This narrative plan will provide for the creation and implementation of library services to a specific inmate population, applying the management principles elucidated in the course.  Topics covered in the Plan include:

  • Service philosophy, with supports for which has potential for best serving the population
  • Law library services, including service to special management inmates, hospital services units, and population inmates
  • Budget recommendation for the fiscal year
  • The training of inmate law clerks and lending library clerks
  • Identifying staff members from the organizational hierarchy that supervise library services both within and outside of the institution
  • Strategies for satisfying annual department-specific training requirements
  • Three library service Goals that can reasonably be achieved in the first year of service
  • Objectives for meeting each Goal
  • Activities for meeting each Objective
  • Creation of a timeline which includes Goals, Objectives, and Activities, and the target dates for completion

This course project is due on or before the final day of the course (please refer to the Course Schedule table below).

Recorded Lectures and Readings (25%, supports CLO #1).  Lectures and their corresponding reading assignments are an integral part of this course, working 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 (35%, 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/lecture. 

  • Sharing ideas 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.  

Recommended Textbook

In addition to required textbook(s) listed below, it is recommended that students read:

  • 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:

Course Project: "Designing Library Services"


Required Lectures/Course Readings


Weekly Discussion Forums Participation


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 submission.  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 1-5

Lesson 1


Principles for Managing the Unimaginable


Discussion One Due June 5

June  6-12

Lesson 2

Prison Library Roles:

What Administrators Expect of the LIBRARY


Discussion Two Due June 12

June 13-19

Lesson 3


Prison Librarian Roles:

What Administrators Expect of YOU


 Discussion Three Due June 19

June 20-26


Service Philosophy: 

Whose library is it, anyway?


Discussion Four Due June 26

Jun 27-Jul 3

Lesson 5

Serving the Incarcerated:

The Ever-Popular Librarian*Inmate Love/Hate Effect


Discussion Five Due July 3


July 4-10

Lesson 6

Prison Law Libraries:

Helping the Helpless Help Themselves


Discussion Six Due July 10


July 11-17

Lesson 7


The Prison's Library as an Agent of Therapeutic Change


Discussion Seven Due July 17


Jul 18-24

Lesson 8


The Importance of Trained Inmate Library Clerks


Discussion Eight Due July 24

Jul 25-31

Lesson 9

Correctional Officers: 

Can't Do Your Job Without 'em


Discussion Nine Due July 31

August 1-5


Lesson 10


                      A Prison Librarian Mantra         


Discussion Ten Due August 5

"Designing Prison Library Services"

Due on or before August 5

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:

  • Austin, J. (2021). Library services and incarceration: Recognizing barriers, strengthening access. ALA Neal-Schuman. Available through Amazon: 0838949452arrow 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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