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Cellhouse Rules Guest Blog by Becky Jackman

Becky Jackman, School Librarian at New Providence Middle School, guest blogs today.

Sometimes I find inspiration in unlikely places. I went to ALA Midwinter expecting to learn about great new books, to have wonderful discussions with co-workers from around the country, and to return to work revived, refreshed, and renewed. I never expected that the most lasting impression would actually come from a side trip to San Francisco.

RULES–Loud talking, shouting, whistling, singing, or other unnecessary noises are not permitted. If you saw these rules posted in a library, you probably wouldn’t think twice about it. But what if you saw them on a sign that said “Regulation #30. Cellhouse Rules”. Does that make you stop and think? Should libraries and prisons have the same rules?

It made me stop and really consider what I want “my” library to be like. Do I really want the rules in my library to be almost the exact same rules that Alcatraz prison had? I bought the sign to put in my office so that I am continually reminded that I’m running a library, not a prison. I wish that I could talk more eloquently about this subject. The imagery of this idea has weighed on me since I returned from Midwinter.