Friday, November 26, 2010

Adventures from an Accidental Prison Librarian

Steinberg, Avi. Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2010. Print.

"Inside [The Boston Public Library], I discovered a crowd that was somehow similar to me from prison and was suddenly struck by the universal culture of daytime libraries, both those in prison and in the free world: they are havens for all variety of loners and outcasts." -Avi Steinberg

Fresh out of Harvard University, freelance writer Avi Steinberg stumbles upon a job opening for a late shift prison librarian and decides to give it a shot. (Although he never mentions it, I imagine that he was also looking for work that would give him good writing material.) The anecdotes he tells about the inmates and guards are intriguing, but the most riveting parts of the book are when he talks about his own life story as an ex-Yeshiva student.

At first I was a little offended that someone without a Master of Library Science degree would dare to call himself a librarian. However, Avi Steinberg quickly won me over because he shows such respect for the profession.

This is a quick, entertaining, and thought-provoking read.