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Data-Driven Librarianship in Corrections: Webinar Series


Data-Driven Librarianship in Corrections (DDLC) is an initiative of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) that brings attention to the pressing issues and opportunities facing correctional libraries today. It combines data-driven approaches in corrections with data-driven library practice.

Beginning in May 2018, NIC will host a series of webinars aimed at helping jurisdictions maximize the benefits of their use of the library with offender populations. Each webinar covers a different topic of librarianship and provides opportunities for participants to engage with speakers through interactive activities and discussion.

The date and time for the latest session is displayed at the bottom of the page as the last purple accordion item, titled: Measuring the Effect of Library Usage.

Learning Objectives

  • Define and apply data-driven librarianship practices in correctional settings
  • Evaluate existing correctional library programs and apply strategies that foster continuous improvement
  • Become informed about new technologies and approaches for learning, management, programming, and outreach when working with offender populations

Who Should Participate

Librarians working with offender populations in either public or correctional settings; correctional officers, correctional executives, and offender recreation and/or education specialists with oversight of library operations; law and legal librarians; academics and researchers in library and information science with an interest in corrections

1. Working Effectively with the Law Library
Blythe Balistrieri, Virginia Commonwealth University

This session took place on May 2, 2018 from 1pm - 2:30pm EST.
Accession #033119


Blythe will be talking to us about the ways in which the general correctional library and law libraries can partner, the challenges correctional librarians must negotiate daily, and how to streamline correctional library operations. 


Professor Blythe Balestrieri. Blythe is an Associate Professor of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where she teachers criminal law, corrections, and a variety of other coursework.  She has years of experience volunteering as a prison librarian in facilities from Nebraska to Virginia, in addition to a plethora of academic experience working with inmates’ access to legal services. In 2016, she received the L. Douglas Wilder School Excellence in Service Award for her work on correctional libraries.

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2. How to Use Research in Practice
Virginia Wilson, Center for Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice, Canada

This Session took place on May 30, 2018 from 1pm - 2:30pm EST.
Accession #033120


Evidenced based library and information practice (EBLIP) evolved from evidence based medicine two decades ago when a group of health sciences librarians thought that the process they saw doctors using had something to offer librarianship. Since then, EBLIP has shifted and evolved. EBLIP can be used in any type of library to assist with decision-making, aid in developing policy, and support decisions, requests, and procedures. EBLIP is a way of working that incorporates various types of information into decision-making. The benefit of practicing in an evidence based way is that not only can decision-making be improved upon but also it can increase confidence when there is appropriate evidence to support decisions. This webinar will take participants through the steps of EBLIP in such a way that you can begin to incorporate EBLIP into your practice right away. Then, we will look at specific uses of EBLIP and explore how you can incorporate evidence based practice at your own workplace.


Virginia Wilson is the Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) at the University Library, University of Saskatchewan (U of S), Canada ( C-EBLIP supports U of S librarians as researchers, promotes evidence based library and information practice (EBLIP), and provides avenues for all librarians who conduct research to communicate, collaborate, and share. Virginia’s MLIS is from the University of Alberta and she has an MA in English from the University of Toronto. Her library work has included positions in a public library, in a special health library within an academic institution, and now at the University. Her research interests include EBLIP, librarians as researchers, and the changing face of scholarly communication. Virginia has worked within the EBLIP framework for 14 years and believes that this way of working can be adopted by any library worker in any library setting to improve decision-making and increase confidence that the best decision has been made.

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3. Assessment, Your Library, and Your Collections
Jill Hurst-Wahl, Syracuse University

This Session begins June 6, 2018 from 2:30pm - 4:00pm EST.
Accession #033121


Expanding on Ranganathan’s five laws, we know that libraries are for use and that every library has its community (users).  In order to ensure that a library is meeting the needs of its users, the library must be able to assess its services, including its collections, and understand how those are meeting the requirements of its community.  This webinar will investigate the assessment activities that a library can utilize to determine the needs of its community, as well as those assessments which can help a library assure that a service is meeting its community’s desires. Specific assessments, which can be completed in any type of environment, will be discussed and examples given.


Jill Hurst-Wahl is consultant, speaker, writer, and educator. She is an associate professor of practice in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and the president of Hurst Associates, Ltd. She currently teaches graduate courses on collection development and on copyright. A former corporate librarian, Jill has always been an advocate for increasing the impact of libraries, no matter the type of community or organization they serve. She is a member of the USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council and the Onondaga County Public Library Board of Trustees. Her interests include copyright, the use of social media, and the future of the profession.

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4. Offender Use of the Library
Jane Garner, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia

This Session took place on July 18, 2018 from 5 -6pm EST.
Accession #033122


Dr. Jane Garner will present the details and findings of a recent doctoral study that focused on the experiences of using libraries in prisons from the prisoner perspective. Her presentation will explain the reasons why this study was undertaken, the research methodology and methods, and the major findings. The study found that libraries in prisons can have a positive influence on prisoner education, behavior management, and personal transformations as well as support positive links to communities and families outside prison. The study provides ample evidence of the positive experiences offered by prison libraries. Dr. Garner will discuss the importance of data-driven studies, such as her own in examining and understanding the role of libraries in prisons. Her study demonstrates that prison libraries have the potential to contribute positively to offender outcomes, both during their time in prison, and in their lives upon release, and that these benefits can flow on to the families of prisoners and to the broader community.


Dr Jane Garner is an academic working at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, teaching in their Information Management Masters Program. Her research interests include the role of libraries in prisons and the experience of using these libraries, and the use of technology in prisoner education. Her PhD thesis was titled “Experiencing the use of Australian prison libraries: a phenomenological study(link is external).” The thesis explores how Australian prisoners experience the use of their libraries and highlights the important and unique role libraries can play in the lives of prisoners. In addition, her research interests focus on the role of information technology in delivering education and information to disadvantaged and remote communities. A further research interest explores the contribution libraries can play in developing social capital in communities.

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5. Measuring the Effect of Library Usage
Kirsten Kinsley, Florida State University

This Session took place on August 23, 2018 starting at 11am EST.
Accession #033123


Learn about how one university library measured the effects of first-time-college students’ library use on their success outcomes. Apply these same approaches to more confidently measure the effects of library programs on offender outcomes in correctional settings. Using Generalized Propensity Scoring (GPS) and/or Precision Matching (PM) you can hone in how your library program affected your participants and rule out other factors that may have affected the result. For example, you want to measure the effectiveness of a literacy program on preventing first-time offender recidivism while controlling for their background educational level and family income.

At FSU Libraries Propensity Score Matching and Precision Matching was applied to a longitudinal study measuring the effects of a library-intensive, freshman seminar on criminology and criminal justice students on student GPA and graduation rates. Since randomization of subjects was not possible, PSM was applied to the students who took the class with other criminology majors who did not. These two groups were matched precisely on a number of standard variables: demographics, income of parents, SAT/ACT scores, and other precollege variables, with current environmental variables such as whether they belonged to the first-generation college student program, etc. Once matched, these students were “tracked” and compared at the end of four years. Do the students who selected the course have a propensity toward selecting it, which is also known as selection bias, as a part of something inherent about them that is not measurable (i.e. better students tend to choose a class like this one)?

Recently, the library wanted to measure whether first-time in college students (FTICs) who frequent and stay for long blocks of time in the library have higher GPAs and retention rates at the end of their first year (an important metric for the university) than those FTIC who do not . To do this, we had to apply Generalized Propensity Scoring (GPS), which is an extension to Propensity Score Matching and Precision Matching, only it is used with continuous measures such as time (Hirano & Imbens, 2004), in other words, “for use with quantitative or continuous exposures (e.g., dose or quantity of medication, income, or years of education)” (Austin, 2017, 1874). GPS provides an estimation of how the dose or interventions of 1. length of stay and 2.number of visits increases GPA and retention rates over time past a certain threshold of time and visits.

Learn to apply a similar approach in a correctional setting.


Kirsten Kinsley is an Assessment Librarian at the Florida State University Libraries and a liaison with the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a co-liaison for the Department of Psychology and the College of Social Work. Kirsten completed her Master of Science in Library and Information Studies in 1999 and received a Master of Science and Specialist in Education degrees in Counseling and Human Systems in 1995 from the Florida State University. In 1989, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Honors. Ms. Kinsley previously worked for the FSU Career Center Library and Law Research Center and has been working in libraries on campus in various capacities since 1991. Kirsten seeks to foster and measure how the library through campus collaborations can contribute to student and faculty success.

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6. The FEPPS Program
Tyra Erzen and Ben Tucker

This Session took place on October 22, 2018 at 4 pm EST.
Accession #033124


FEPPS’ provides a rigorous college education for 108 women in Washington Corrections Center for Women, currently leading to an Associates of Arts degree. FEPPS was formed in 2012 at the request of the Women’s Village, a leadership organization formed by women inside WCCW, to collaborate on college education for female prisoners. In addition to offering 28 college courses per year, FEPPS offers academic advising, college readiness coursework, and non-credit enrichment programs which are available to prison staff as well as inmates.

Our volunteer faculty, all have whom have an MA or PhD, develop and deliver high-quality courses that meet credit/degree requirements while creatively adapting to the logistical constraints that come with teaching in prison. Over the past three years we have graduated 30 students earning an AA degree.

FEPPS is a signature initiative of the University of Puget Sound and we have proposed a bachelor’s degree program for women inside the prison. This session discusses how we have collaborated with the library at the university to provide academic research materials and skills to students inside the prison through a partnership with outside undergraduates and the university librarians, and some of the challenges of creating a college program in prison without access to academic databases.


Tanya Erzen, Ph.D. 

Tanya Erzen is an Associate Professor at The University of Puget Sound(link is external) and the Executive Director of the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound(link is external), an organization that provides college classes to women in Washington prisons and seeks to educate the public about educational access and incarceration.  She has been a Soros Justice Media fellow (link is external)and a 2015(link is external) Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence(link is external).  She has also received research support from the Open Society Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Mellon Foundation, American Association of University Women and the Social Science Research Council.   

Benjamin Tucker, MLIS

Ben Tucker is a social sciences and scholarly communications liaison librarian at Collins Memorial Library(link is external) at University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington. He earned his Master of Library & Information Science Degree from the University of Washington’s Information School. Tucker has worked on issues related to providing college library services to students in prison for the past year.

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7. Assessing Learning in Your Library
Dr. Natasha Jankowski & Kara Malenfant

This Session took place on November 13, 2018, 2 pm EST.
Accession #033125


A 2016 report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education noted that incarcerated adults with access to library services other than a law library scored higher in literacy and numeracy than incarcerated adults without access on a survey conducted by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. While the study does not address why or how library services played a role in the success of incarcerated adults, it does highlight the question. In fact, the effect of library services on learning is an issue that academic libraries have attempted to address for years. In this DDLC webinar series session, representatives from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes and the Association of College Research Libraries will share how their organizations have been tackling the issue.

NILOA will begin by providing an introduction on current practices and future trends in assessing and documenting learning. They will then uncover efforts that are unfolding to capture and document evidence of student learning outside of traditional curricular experiences. ACRL will then explain how they have been focusing on helping academic libraries and librarians demonstrate alignment with and impact on institutional outcomes.

By the end of this session, you will learn how academic libraries have approached assessment in recent years and examine how some of these efforts may be adapted for use in a correctional setting.


Dr. Natasha Jankowski:

Dr. Natasha Jankowski is Director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) and research assistant professor with the department of education policy, organization and leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is co-author, along with her NILOA colleagues, of the books Using Evidence of Student Learning to Improve Higher Education, and, Degrees That Matter: Moving Higher Education to a Learning Systems Paradigm. Her main research interests include assessment, organizational evidence use, and evidence-based storytelling. She holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Illinois, an MA in higher education administration from Kent State University and worked with the Office of Community College Research and Leadership studying community colleges and public policy.

Kara Malenfant:

Kara Malenfant is Senior Strategist for Special Initiatives at ACRL where she coordinates government relations advocacy, scholarly communication activities, and ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries initiative. She also provides consulting services on organization change and occasionally has time for research.

Prior to coming to ACRL in 2005, Kara was an academic librarian, worked in humanitarian aid and served as a Peace Corps volunteer. She earned a Ph.D. in leadership and change from Antioch University, a M.S. in library and information science from the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in English from Allegheny College.

Kara grew up in Minnesota and lives on Chicago’s far north side with her husband, son, and a dog who loves to lick chins. When she's not working or with her family, you'll find her gardening on her garage rooftop, biking or practicing yoga. Learn more about Kara in her Meet the Staff profile on the ACRL Insider blog.

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8. Creating Library Collections for Community-Supervised and Incarcerated Offenders

This Session took place on December 10, 2018 at 2 pm EST.
Accession #033155

Presentation Summary

How can information professionals use data to create a library collection that is more responsive to patron needs?

Many government librarians find it difficult to expand their collections due to budget restrictions and the general move throughout the country toward closing or reducing branch services. Unfortunately, with the growth of our information-based economy, libraries are quickly becoming one of the few places where offenders can receive the services they need to help them function in society before and after release.

This webinar is designed to help librarians deliver targeted services to justice-involved patrons while maximizing limited budgets by identifying books for use that may already be present in their collections. Using a program called responsive librarianship, librarians can construct a four-track reading scheme that can help their patrons engage with texts in a way that is personalized and designed to meet their informational, recreational, and mental health needs.


Peter Cannon:

Peter Cannon, MLIS, is the Communication Officer for the University of South Florida’s School of Information. He is a veteran of library service with over 35 years of working in the field of information science. He is also the director of the Drug Abuse Comprehensive Coordinating Office Library, an information center designed to deliver services to women in a residential treatment center. He teaches technical writing at the University of South Florida, where he is finishing his PhD in rhetoric.

Ashley N. Reese:

Ashley N. Reese is a Digital Teaching Fellow at the University of South Florida. She received her Ph.D. in Children’s Literature from the University of Cambridge (UK). Her current research focuses on gender and religion in turn-of-the-century, North American girls' books and the digital humanities. She is the author of the forthcoming The Rise of Girls’ Literature (Cambridge University Press).

9. Reach Out, Reach Up

This Webinar was recorded on June 10, 2019 at 1 pm ET
Accession #033133

Presentation Summary:

The Broward County Florida Library’s “Reach Out, Reach Up” program is a collaboration between Broward County Library (BCL), the Broward Reentry Center of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), and the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The program provides library resources and services to formerly incarcerated and currently incarcerated individuals, with the goal of supporting successful re-entry into the community. Intake BCL staff meet initially with BREC participants, and refer them to a Library Liaison, who connects program participants with services that provide job readiness, technology skills, literacy, information and other educational programs. BCL staff provides similar services to incarcerated individuals in the DJJ.

Problem Statement

Incarcerated people and Individuals formerly incarcerated may not be familiar with the variety of library services that could assist them as they reintegrate into the Broward County Florida community. The Reach Out, Reach Up program strives to increase the awareness of and participation in library services, programs, classes, and spaces. This meets the needs for job readiness, technology skills, literacy, information, and education as these individuals prepare for and reenter the Broward County community.



Michael Bryant, Community Library Manager Senior, Broward County Library, Florida

Michael Bryant is the project lead for Broward County Library’s offenders and ex-offenders program “Reach Out, Reach Up”. Michael helped to establish working relationships with Broward Sheriff Office in addition to the Department of Juvenile Justice. Furthermore, Michael Bryant works with the Reach Out, Reach Up team to identify the library services to deliver to this underserved population. Michael Bryant is the Adult Services Coordinator of Broward County Public Library. Mr. Bryant oversees the adult services in the Broward County Public Library.

Katie Reusze, Community Library Manager Senior, Broward County Library, Florida

Katie Reusze is a Community Library Manager Senior in the Broward County Library System. She manages the number one ranked circulating library in Broward County. Ms. Reusze has a background in both youth and adult library services. She served on both local and statewide committees. Katie Reusze is a graduate of the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute.

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10. Bringing Books to Life

This session took place on July 31, 2018 at 1 pm ET
Accession #033156


“Bringing Books to Life! (BBTL) is an award-winning literacy initiative created by the Nashville Public Library in collaboration with various agencies and institutions to serve the families and children of Nashville. The program utilizes the Library’s unique troupe of performing artists and historic collection of marionettes to foster reading readiness through literature-based theatre presentations and classroom lessons. BBTL, sponsored by the Nashville Public Library Foundation, seeks to make the library a meaningful part of the lives of children and their families and emphasizes the importance of reading to children.”


Klem-Mari Cajigas​​​​​​

Klem-Marí Cajigas is the full-time Family Literacy Coordinator Bringing Books to Life!. She delivers BBTL’s Loving & Learning Family Literacy workshops to schools and childcare centers throughout Davidson County, in both English and Spanish. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Orlando, Florida, Klem-Marí graduated from Stetson University with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Religious Studies. She moved to Nashville in 2003 to attend Vanderbilt Divinity School. After earning a Master of Divinity, she continued on to doctoral work in Ethics and Society at the Graduate Department of Religion at Vanderbilt. Klem-Marí realized that the professional academy was not for her, however, and joyfully left her program to pursue other opportunities. She has been with Nashville Public Library since 2012.

Niq Tognoni

Niq began working for the Digital Youth Network in 2010, teaching graphic design at the Chicago Public Library’s YOUmedia learning lab space.  Through the building of projects and curriculum based on Connected Learning and “Homago” philosophies he grew to a leadership position and became a contributor to the national conversation about learning labs and maker-spaces.  He joined Nashville Public Library in 2014 to launch the Studio NPL Learning Lab program, and-together with a talented team of mentors and staff- has grown the program into several sites and mobile labs that brings digitally-focused learning opportunities to schools, community centers, and beyond.  He continues to study implementation of digital literacy experiences for teens, and serves as an adviser for several grants and maker-spaces nation wide.

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11. Reducing Recidivism through a Public Library Gardening Program

This month, the Data-Driven Librarianship in Corrections (DDLC) webinar series features an innovative program stretching the boundaries of traditional library service. In Reducing Recidivism through a Public Library Gardening Program, assistant professor and former librarian Tracey Overbey highlights a project she developed in Ohio that had tangible effects with offenders in the community on probation. The presentation will show how a modest library garden enriched both the lives and community of youth and adults affected by the local criminal justice system. The presentation will also include information about how you can start and manage a similar project at a library in your own area.

Tracey Overbey is currently an assistant professor at the Ohio State University Libraries and served previously as the Education Librarian at the Cleveland Public Library in Ohio. She has collaborated closely with grassroots organizations and other nonprofits to bring relevant programming to urban communities. Her current research poses inquiry into the relationship between libraries and community health in disadvantaged urban communities. She earned her MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

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