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Girls create their own library at KJCC

by KDOC News — last modified Mar 08, 2018 12:04 PM
A year ago, checking out a library book was not always easy for female residents at the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex (KJCC). Classes are often held in the library and female residents also must wait for staff to clear the area of male residents who are housed in the same building as the library.

To increase their access to library books, staff and the female residents decided to create a “Girls Library”.  The satellite library is now up and running and the girls can check out a book anytime they want, said Nancee Torkelson, KJCC information officer.

“In the past, there were two to three girls who would have a library book,” Torkelson said. “Now, every single one has a library book.”

Under the guidance of Dauna Herman, a corrections counselor who came to KJCC after LJCF closed last year, the idea for the Girls Library took root, Torkelson said.

“Ms. Herman asked the girls what they would like to do in their spare time,” Torkelson said. “The response was overwhelming. They wanted to read.”

Herman identified a space for a potential library and got approval to receive books from LJCF’s closed library.

“When talking with the girls, Ms. Herman began to get the sense that the girls were going to have fun creating their own space including decorating the walls with posters,” Torkelson said. “One girl was picked to be the librarian and the fun soon began.”

KJCC began receiving boxes and located salvaged bookshelves for approximately 200 books that the girls helped catalog and shelve.

“When they worked, they talked about their favorite authors and began looking through what book series they could begin to read,” Torkelson said. “But once all the books were placed on the shelf, a little bit of disappointment set in. Authors they knew and loved to read were not there.”

Again, the corrections counselor stepped in to help. Herman started a discussion with the girls about one of her favorite authors, Jennifer Chiaverini, who is best known for her popular Elm Creek Quilts series.

Herman wrote to the author who responded by sending the first 17 book from the series. The residents and Herman signed a thank-you card to the author and Herman received approval to purchase the missing books to complete the set.

“The girls could not believe their eyes,” Torkelson said. “The library is continuing to grow and as the girls come and go, they are taking little bits of learning with them from reading.”


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