Often regarded as a library for recreation, the full role of the library in corrections is so much more. Both institutional and public libraries offer services and resources that facilitate a smooth transition from criminal justice involvement to crime-free living in the community. Libraries are deterrents of crime, providing alternatives to criminal behavior and undesirable activities, both within a facility and outside in a community.
Evidence-Based Librarianship in Corrections (EBLC), an initiative of the National Institute of Corrections, brings attention to the issues and opportunities facing correctional libraries today. It combines evidence-based approaches in corrections with evidence-based library practice. Together, these fields inform the development of a correctional library program that provides not only anecdotal evidence but also quantifiably measurable evidence that shows the library’s bearing on facilitating positive criminal justice outcomes in jurisdictions throughout the country.
EBLC further acknowledges the continuum of library services provided throughout corrections, from the institutional library to the public library and from the professionally staffed library to the library staffed with volunteers. It explores the broad range of services available for people being supervised not only in prisons and jails but community corrections environments as well. Thus, the need for rigorous inquiry is wide and vast.
The National Institute of Corrections encourages partner organizations in criminal justice, library service, and academia to explore a diversity of concepts in EBLC for the advancement and improvement of the field. By helping justice-involved individuals establish a productive relationship with the library—e.g., by teaching them skills and fostering an appreciation for the services that a library can offer—we can be a catalyst for ensuring positive reentry outcomes. And by helping library professionals in the field, we contribute to the advancement of the profession and a higher level of service that can be offered.