On Thursday December 1st, members from the Brooklyn Public library introduced a group of interested Pratt LIS students to the prison library programs in NYC. Nick Franklin from the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) discussed the services he and others help to provide to Rikers Island prison system, including visitation with circulating materials, reader advisory, reference services, and a video call service. The call service, TeleStory, is the most remarkable project seen in the library prison outreach programs offered in New York. A secure video calling system, pre-existing within the prison, is utilized to allow contact between prisoners and their families. Families are able to schedule calls from the Brooklyn Central Library and keep in contact with loved ones. The service provides a humanist approach to bridging distance through technology.
BPL offers opportunities for librarians and library students to volunteer with these unique experience. The library works to build connections throughout the city by connecting library professionals to effective public projects in professional ways. Often digital humanities focuses on projects databases, collections, visual interaction, and mapping. However, the potential DH applications of services like Telestory have yet to be assessed. Human interaction with and across communication methods is at the core of digital humanities. Libraries and social media networks are tools intended for the use of sharing and discovering information. “The digital humanities community was an early adopter of social media, utilizing it for scholarly communication, collaboration and dissemination” (Ross, 2012.)
Digital humanities has the tools and knowledge to build projects that benefit society. Technology advancement has continued to strive to build professional, personal, and academic connections. Social media can create communities that network users to learning opportunities, events, and more (Ross, 2012.) Telestory and similar efforts have the potential to share experiences and connect stories. These services can help to create memories and strengthen bonds. They tell a history through time of human connection.
Ross, Claire (2012). “Social media for digital humanities and community engagement” in Digital Humanities in Practice, eds. Clarie Warwick, Melissa Terras, and Julianne Nythan. London: Facet Publishing.