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Data-Driven Librarianship in Corrections

  • Working Effectively with the Law Library [Webinar]

    Webinar held May 2, 2018

    Blythe Balistrieri discusses 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. Her presentation covers some of the history of correctional libraries, challenges that these libraries can face, and how librarians can work to alleviate some of them. Professor Balestrieri listed five actions that correctional library staff can take to combat some of their challenges: Advocacy, Communication, Education, Training and Team Building. Makes reference to court cases Bounds v. Smith, Thornburgh v. Abbot, Lewis v. Casey.

  • How To Use Research in Practice [Webinar]

    Webinar held May 30, 2018


    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.

  • Assessment, Your Library, and Your Collections [Webinar]

    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.

  • Offender Use of the Library [Webinar]

    Webinar held July 18, 2018.

    Dr. Jane Garner presents 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 explains 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 discusses 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.

  • Measuring the Effect of Library Usage [Webinar]

    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.

  • Assessing Learning in Your Library [Webinar]

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

    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 share how their organizations have been tackling the issue.

    NILOA begins by providing an introduction on current practices and future trends in assessing and documenting learning. They 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 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.