Catherine goes to prison

prisonLast Friday, I went to visit a Forensicare researcher at the Melbourne Assessment Prison (formerly the Melbourne Remand Centre). Our library services a large range of groups who work in a variety of locations. Forensicare staff work in high security sites as well as in the community. This researcher worked in a prison and I thought it would be an interesting excursion to visit her (OK, I was very curious – I’ve never visited a prison before) and sometimes, showing a person how to search databases etc works better if they are in a familiar environment. It was raining when I left work to get on the tram and by the time I was at LaTrobe St, it was pouring heavily. My trousers were almost soaking! The researcher met me at reception and I signed in. Then I passed over my passport and staff ID for ID purposes to the guard and was then given a blue bracelet and visitor lanyard.. I had to put all my stuff in a locker – not even allowed to bring a pen in, but allowed paper. I had my sheaf of library bumpf and how-tos – that was allowed. Then we passed through a body scanner and then another scanner (this was for items being brought in ). Then to get to the staff meeting room with a PC, we had to go through 3 or 4 heavy doors with eye scanners. The researcher had to lift the flap and look into the scanner. At one guard point, it was looking in the eye scanner for her and for me, holding up my wrist to the window to show the guard I had been processed by the guards at entry. Past the first heavy door was the prisoner visitor communication booths. It was quite small and cramped looking. The building looks quite large from the outside but inside, from the areas I saw anyway, it was quite small. I guess the walls are very thick. I was warned it would take a long time getting through (it took about 30mins) and before I even got to this point, I had to provide the researcher with some personal details in order to be approved.

How can I end this post? If you have clients in multiple locations, it is worthwhile to do site visits. Not every client is able to physically visit the library for instruction sessions or research advice. Not only is it an excursion for you, it is also an opportunity to see what their work environment is like – what is technologically possible and what work-arounds could work. Next up is a visit to the Royal Park campus.

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