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Volunteer Opportunities with Correctional Services

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Without volunteers, the Correctional Services program would not be nearly as successful as it is.
 
We accept new volunteer applicants on a rolling basis.The size of our staff limits our capacity to interact with volunteers and accept new people to our team. Our program operates with very limited staff who often work offsite. The work we do is very specialized and we ask a lot of those who work with us. Because we receive a high volume of inquiries, we are unable to respond to every new volunteer applicant. We appreciate your understanding.
 
If you find you do not meet the guidelines listed below, please check back, as our needs change over time.
 
Volunteers are required to
  • commit to 2-4 full days per month, for a minimum of 3 months
  • practice excellent people skills and a capacity for self-reflection and self-assessment
  • be effective and comfortable working independently
  • uphold and understand the importance of patron privacy, particularly with special populations
  • be experienced in library and research skills across a variety of topics
We prefer volunteers who
  • are familiar with using major newspaper and magazine databases
  • have a working knowledge of basic law databases and justice system issues
  • have excellent written communication skills
  • are pursuing a career in public librarianship and/or outreach services

Ways to Volunteer

 
We welcome people to this work by inviting volunteers to first help us at our office in Midtown. Not every personality is suited to work in the correctional setting so we encourage each volunteer on our team to excel where he or she fits best.
 
Reference Letters: We receive dozens of reference letters by mail each week from incarcerated men and women. The reference questions cover community resources and assistance, religion, celebrities, publishing, music, law, etc. Incarcerated people have very limited access to the information they seek. Answering mail from prisons is always interesting and a rewarding way to build reference skills through the uncommon format of snail mail. The reference letter work is done independently and some do this work from home.
 
Collection Management: We always need help organizing, weeding and shelving our ever-changing book collection. Our collection of books is completely donated and it requires attention to stay relevant and neat. Please be aware that collection management work is done independently. 
 
Library Service at City Jails: We use volunteers at three of the city jail sites we serve with library services. Volunteers help us with circulation, readers’ advisory, collection organization and customer service.
 

Get Involved

 
Please email Emily Jacobson, Correctional Services Librarian at emilyjacobson@nypl.org with questions or to get involved. To apply to our volunteer team, please email your resume to Ms. Jacobson and tell briefly what interests you and why.