Michelle De Agostini didn’t go into library school intending to become a prison librarian, but a series of events lead her to this interesting and rewarding position. Her journey began as a volunteer for the GELA Prison Libraries Project, providing library services to the Edmonton Institution for Women, the Edmonton Remand Centre and, where Michelle has been employed for the last 7 months, the Edmonton Institution (the regional federal maximum security prison for men).
Whereas minimum or medium security facilities run their libraries more like public libraries, maximum security institutions greatly restrict the movement of their inmates, so Michelle personally delivers and retrieves materials from her clients after they have made requests from a database, using a computer accessible in their respective units…and no, they do not have internet access! Although there are security concerns, Michelle is treated with respect by the inmates, and if she ever feels she needs it, she always has her panic button.
Michelle had her work cut out for her coming into the position. The previous “librarian” was an army retiree who “liked books”, so she had to create library policies and procedures from scratch. She also had to replace most of the collection with more current materials, including swapping out the 1999 version of the Criminal Code for a more recent one. Michelle also started book clubs to encourage reading (which reduces recidivism, according to studies), and to help build empathy and develop pro-social skills. Having a tiny collections budget, they library is happy to receive donations, but within parameters: paper back novels only. And, as space is very limited, Michelle has to be selective.
is a list of requested titles, and they will also take text books or study
guides up to 4 years old. Please, no old National
Geographic or science magazines!
set of Harry Potter books
comic books (Marvel and DC)
world atlas (i.e. printed after 1995)
Edmonton Law Libraries Association invites you to a Presentation on Prison Librarianship with Michelle De Agostini.
Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 12:00-1:00PM Boardroom B2, Lower Level Law Courts Building South 1A Sir Winston Churchill Square
There will be door prizes! …
Lunch will be provided | $10 Members, $15 Non-Members Please RSVP to ellaexec [@] gmail .com by Tuesday, January 21, 2020
We are accepting membership applications for the 2019/20 year; membership dues are $25. Please complete the membership form and our treasurer will arrange for payment. Students qualify for free membership!!
Our annual cardinal winter gathering was once again enjoyed by all who attended. Your ELLA executive hopes everyone of the ELLA family had a wonderful and restful break, and send heartfelt wishes for an abundant 2020 (plenty-plenty!!). Stay tuned for further updates on the exciting events we have planned for you in the new year.
Shaunna Mireau, Julie Rainey, Dolores Noga and Josette McEachern
Christine Brown and Katie Cuyler
Jane Symons, Samantha Allan, Michelle De Agostini and Sara Tokay
Denise Thompson, Ana San Miguel and Carla Dunsmore
On November 22, prominent Edmonton defense lawyer Brian Beresh and his articling student Dwight Dakers addressed the ELLA membership and a few other guests on the topic of jury selection in the light of the newly in- force Bill C-75. He gave us a brief lesson on the history of juries and jury selection and the state of the law prior to the September 19, 2019 changes. Mr. Beresh then outlined some of the concerns that both Crown and Defence lawyers have with the new legislation, in particular the removal of peremptory challenges. Though the intent was to give the accused a more representative jury, the outcome may be to the contrary. The verdict is still out as to whether these new provisions should be applied retrospectively, and we are awaiting Court of Appeal rulings on this issue. Please see the attached PowerPoint PDF for further details.