February 24, 2015

December 5, 2014

Work Blog 2


The dictionary was once an audio book in this library.  In 1983, the National Library Service recorded The Concise Heritage Dictionary.  It was recorded on 56 sound cassettes and was distributed in 5 containers.  According to one of our resident librarians, the cassettes didn’t circulate, but were available in the library as part of the reference collection.  Can you imagine fast forwarding and rewinding to get to the word that you wanted to find out?  What if you didn’t exactly know how to spell it?
The Concise Heritage Dictionary has not yet been converted to digital and is not yet available on BARD, but it is on its way.  Which is what I had to tell a disappointed library patron this week, who called up asking for it.  The patron told me that they used to spend time reading the dictionary, and now, because they had lost their sight, were interested in listening to it.  Can you imagine being that interested in words?
Some people are.  Ammon Shea is.  Author Ammon Shea
In his book Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages (DB67925), Ammon Shea records the year that he spent reading the entireOxford English Dictionary. From this radio interview from NPR,  I learned that a “vocabularian” is a person who pays too much attention to words.  Ammon Shea is decidedly a vocabularian, but what about the library patron?  What about me?  If I’m more prone to learning some business speak from Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect, or learning about brain science inProust and the Squid, do I still get to be a vocabularian?
Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21730 Pages
by Ammon Shea
DB 67925Cover for Reading the OED by Shea
A self-proclaimed collector of words describes his yearlong reading of the “Oxford English Dictionary”. He comments on words that he believes others would like to know about, such as “sympatetic,” which is a companion one walks with, and “onomatomania,” which means vexation at having difficulty finding the right word. 2008.
Small Message, Big Impact: The Elevator Speech Effect
by Terri Sjodin
DB 75418
Speaking consultant shares techniques for creating a short sales pitch, otherwise known as the “elevator speech,” intended to earn more presentation time. Discusses outlining and condensing your message, using a natural voice, and practicing and evaluating delivery. 2012.
Cover for Proust and the Squid by WolfProust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
by Maryanne Wolf
DB 67928
Discusses the evolution of our human brain’s capacity to learn to read. Begins with the origins of writing, proceeds to the development of the reading brain and its pathways to acquisition, and ends with questions about potential transformations due to digital technology. Examines reading difficulties of children with dyslexia. 2007.

September 16, 2014

Work Blog 1


Have you read anything by John Irving? When someone ordered A Prayer for Owen Meany (DB 29012) last week, I flashed back. I was surprised that I had forgotten about him.
Author John Irving poses at his desk
I read many of Irving’s books over ten years ago and considered him a favorite author in my late teens. I remember his characters as complicated, compelling, and full of layers.  I never knew what to expect or where the plot would go. Irving’s books took me to metropolis India, to a logging town in New Hampshire, and into the internal conflicts of a number of troubled writers and grappling adolescents.  It was all compelling fiction. I was disappointed only once, near the end of Last Night in Twisted River, when the story turned too fantastic for my taste.
Recently, I learned that when he wasn’t busy maneuvering through plot lines in his books, Irving was out maneuvering men on the mat. According to his website, John Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992. The Hall of Fame has a category for Outstanding Americans, people who came from a foundation of discipline in wrestling and went on to excel in another discipline, such as writing.  Two of his books feature wrestling coaches or enthusiasts, and one of those is The World According to Garp.
The World According to Garp 
DB 11764 
The fictional life and times of T.S. Garp, famous writer and son of Jenny, an early feminist leader. Named after a father he never sees, Garp grows up to be a fiercely independent, determined individual and his mother’s equal. Some strong language and some explicit descriptions of sex.
The Cider House Rules 
DB 21531
Set in rural Maine at the turn of the century, this is the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, saint, obstetrician, orphanage director, ether addict, and abortionist. His medical practices are hindered and abetted by his favorite orphan, Homer Wells. The novel is based on documents left by the author’s physician grandfather. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex. Bestseller 1985.
Last Night in Twisted River 
DB 70798
Dominic Baciagalupo and his twelve-year-old son Danny live in a New Hampshire logging camp where Dominic cooks for the crew. When Danny accidentally kills someone, the two begin a nomadic life. Danny eventually attends college and becomes a writer, using their experiences as plots. Strong language. 2009.

July 15, 2014

Medical Neglect at SCI Muncy

The Human Rights Coalition received reports from Stacey Detwiler, a prisoner housed at SCI Muncy, who is experiencing health problems and deliberate indifference from medical staff at the prison . Two months after being admitted to SCI Muncy and prescribed 9 new medications, Detwiler lost regular leg function and has trouble walking or standing without collapsing. She suspects her medication is not correct and has tried meeting with medical staff to resolve the issue. Staff refuse to intervene, saying she must wait until she is released in two years.  Detwiler’s laundry job pays $12 a month making it impossible for her to meet the $5 charge per sick call to get appropriate care.  Staff refuse to grant Detwiler any privileges offered to prisoners with similar health problems, claiming that she is not old enough to qualify for privileges, such as obtaining a white card to move to the front of the medication line.

In December of last year, Detwiler and other women reported to prison officials, racial comments made by Guard Wolfe.  Wolfe was removed from line duty for a short time, but then came back. Shortly after, Wolfe accused Detwiler of cutting the med line and charged her with 30 days in the hole for being in an unauthorized area. Detwiler reported being freezing in the RHU in February and having trouble doing breathing treatments in the cold cell. Juan Mendez, the U.S. Special Rapporteur on torture suggests 15 days in solitary confinement as a psychological limit for punishing people, yet the DOC doles out 30 days commonly, often in retaliation for filing grievances.

Additionally, Detwiler reports being denied food by Guards McElroy and Cramer. After collapsing on the way to the chow hall because of leg problems, Detwiler was sent to the infirmary. When attempting to get her meal later, expecting a peanut butter sandwich, CO Cramer told her he would think about it. After an hour and a half she alerted Sgt McElroy who informed her that there was no food left. Detwiler reports that other women have been denied food by McElroy and Cramer.  In addition to being a human rights violation, denying a prisoner food is against DOC policy.

Detwiler was convicted of 3.5 to 7 years for witness intimidation, after stopping over a neighbor’s house to see if she was going to go court for her son’s case.  Detwiler knew the women and had helped take care of her when the neighbor was a teen, but believe the court inflated the story to get a conviction.  Detwiler fears that she will not regain regular leg function and will have become disabled due to her lengthy prison sentence and lack of medical treatment.

March 8, 2014

Evening Journal

Today I did something different. I called my friends on the phone.  I said this isn't working.

I ate junk food all day, only.

But it was good for me she said.  I cried my face off.  It has been 7 years since we spoke.

I wanted to see if you were interested, so I could tell her on Sunday and we could go from there.

This is exactly the conversation I needed to have he said.

I went home and took videos of hanging up my clothes on your hooks.  It's been _________ without you here.

I read internets and slept.

February 26, 2014

Reading and Discussion on Censorship in Prisons-March 16, 2014

From the Movement:
"Battling Censorship Behind Bars" by Andrea Jones
"Censorship on the Prison Plantation: Extinguishing Dissent" by Saleem Holbrook
"No Mis-education Behind Bars" by Linn Washington Jr.
"July 2012 Censorship Report" by the Legal Coordinator of MIM(Prisons) 

pg. 15-22

From PennLive:

"PA. Department of Corrections bans some books, magazines from prisoners" by Donald Gillard

From the Texas Civil Rights Project:
"Banned Books in the Texas Prison System" by Texas Civil Rights Project

pg. 31-35

From Decarcerate PA:
"Issue 3 January 2014" by Decarcerate PA

December 1, 2013

Press Release

For Immediate Release

Family Members Petition DA to Drop Case Against Prisoners

Luzerne County, PA - December 2, 2013- Family members and supporters of PA state prisoners accused of riot at SCI Dallas in 2010 are calling on the District Attorney of Luzerne County to drop the case, before the trial set to begin on December 9th.  They will deliver petitions to DA Salavantis and convene at the Luzerne County Courthouse today at noon.

In April of 2010, six prisoners who were incarcerated at SCI Dallas covered their cell windows with towels and barricaded their cell doors leading to cell extractions by prison guards.  The prisoners were removed from their cells, pepper sprayed and tased by correctional officers, strip searched, and moved to different cells.  The prisoners filed grievances against the prison on conditions of confinement and food deprivation leading up to the events and wrote to outside human rights agencies. The Department of Corrections filed riot charges against the prisoners in July of 2010.

Since 2010, one prisoner has been released from prison and plead out of this case, and another, Duane Peters, has been removed from the case and will be tried separately.  Court watcher, Debby Rabold,attended a preliminary hearing for 5 of the prisoners on September 19th in Judge Lisa Gelb's court, and found that one of the prisoners had not been arraigned yet and one had not been transported to the hearing.  

"If the District Attorney had any factual evidence against the inmates with which to proceed, the case would have been adjudicated long ago. Lacking evidence, the case has been continued month after month for over three years -- all at the expense of tax dollars which could have, and should have been, spent more wisely," Rabold said.

"After watching the 35 minute cell extraction video of Carrington Keys, it becomes clear that the conditions of confinement are inhumane," says Amanda Johnson of the Human Rights Coalition FedUp!  "The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that solitary confinement for over 15 days could be defined as torture. No one should have to live or work under these principles and procedures. "

Prisoners who are housed in the Restricted Housing Unit within the PA Department of Corrections are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day with little recreation or social stimulation. Prisoners can be held in the Restricted Housing Unit for years for disciplinary or administrative reasons.  The Disability Rights Network filed a lawsuit against the PA Department of Corrections last March on behalf of prisoners with serious mental illness being held in solitary confinement and not receiving treatment. The U.S. Department of Justice expanded their investigation from two to all PA prisons this past year.