By David Macaulay
Children whose parents are in jail often miss out on bedtime stories with their mother or father. It’s a problem Suffolk librarians are seeking to address via a recorded storybook program.
Suffolk Public Library, which recently won an outstanding innovative outreach effort award from the Virginia Public Library Directors Association for its prison and reentry program, isn’t losing its momentum.
The library service is currently researching funding for the recorded storybook program and considering a jail book exchange program.
Librarians are encouraged to “think big,” said Outreach and Program Services Manager Megan Mulvey.
Outreach Operations Librarian Amy Brunson added: “We want to offer a recorded storybook program where we bring storybooks into the correctional facilities, and parents can record themselves reading a story to their children. Then we send the recordings home to the child as well as a copy of the book.”
Over the previous two years, library staff have helped about 300 inmates, Brunson said. Support comes in various forms from connecting inmates to agencies, to helping them with resumes and computer skills.
Librarians visit jails and prisons, and help former inmates when they return to the community. They visit inmates at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk, Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, and Deerfield Correctional Center in Southampton County. Library staff also help some former inmates from Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth.