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To become a prison librarian, it can be helpful to have experience in corrections and library operations. In addition, it can be a good idea to take classes in criminal justice with an emphasis on correctional officer training. While you are in college, you may want to look for a work-study program at your school's library so you can gain experience as a librarian. You can also look for a part-time job at a public library or one at a juvenile detention facility. Volunteer work at a county or city jail library can also offer valuable experience.
When you begin working at a prison library, you may be asked to supervise offenders who are assigned to work there. It can be very important to have a background in corrections before you become a prison librarian to give you these skills. If you have never worked in a correctional facility before, you may want to take classes that could prepare you for correctional officer duties; an associate's degree in criminal justice is one way of doing this.
While you are taking college courses, it can be very helpful to gain library experience. You may want to find out if your college has a work-study program that might allow you to work at the campus library. It can be helpful to learn how to maintain a card catalog or computer based cataloging system and how to order materials. If you college has a legal department, you might want to apply for a position in the law library, because many prison libraries also contain legal materials.
You may be able to find employment as a librarian at a public library, school, or juvenile detention facility to help prepare for your future career. While a position at a public library could help you gain experience, a job at a juvenile detention facility or school might give you more targeted skills that could help you become a prison librarian. You may be required to supervise young people during the course of your daily activities, and this experience could help you land a job inside a prison.
The right volunteer work can help you become a prison librarian. Local jails sometimes need volunteers to help prison librarians sort materials and make them available to offenders. By helping in this capacity, you gain valuable experience, and also network with people who can help you when you are ready to begin looking for a job in a prison library.