Library Voices, Episode1 – with James Peteet

Library Voices, Episode1 – with James Peteet


My name is James Peteet. I’ve lived in Prince George’s County for twenty six years. I went to Delaware State University, where I graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice, and I now work as a law librarian in the County Correctional Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The jail actually houses about 800 pre-trial detainees, and the services that we offer is providing them with the legal material pertaining to their case. So whatever is holding them there at the jail, we tell them, you know, what the charge entails, how much time they may be serving, what kind of motions they could file- things like that, just to help them throughout the process. I actually had only been to a library maybe once that I can remember before I started working at the library in 2016. I was probably nine years old at the Surratts-Clinton branch, and I know the book that I had read was called “The Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson”, So I never grew up a reader, honestly, or came up in libraries at all. It’s important to serve the public because everyone doesn’t have the same access to resources, and being the library, our primary job, I believe is to disseminate information and show people a way to get to where they need to go. The library actually showed me what I was passionate about. I love getting messages out to kids about self empowerment, self love, things of that nature. And without working at the library, I would have never figured that out because I didn’t grow up, you know, doing a lot of mentoring stuff. So I figure, if I insert myself, someone that did grow up with two parents, and I had mentors, and so on and so forth, I could be that guy for these kids. So the library helped me find my passion by putting me in a situation in which I had to, in a sense, let’s say, be the mentor for other people. I have a program in conjunction with the 100 Black Men of Prince George’s County, which is a nonprofit here. And we do what’s called a Boys’ Reading program where we not only help the boys improve their reading comprehension, but it’s also a mentorship program all in one. So like I said, a lot of the kids that come to our program don’t have stable households, or just things are going on in their lives and they need someone to guide them. The average person should definitely use the library because, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? And the library is the place that you come to find out all kinds of information, even things that you may not have thought you’d be interested in. Just coming here and browsing the collection, you’ll find so many things that you never thought you would even care to know about. You know, I think the county system does a great job at serving our population. So once we just educate ourselves more we can then help educate the public. We have a great staff here, and we just gotta keep the ball rolling and we could better serve all the communities. It kind of put me front and center of things that I thought I would be afraid of. Like I said, I do mentoring, so every Monday we’re back with the Boys Read program. And all the time, every Monday, I’m called to speak in front of a group of people, whether it be the kids, their parents, or County officials that come up, and that’s something that I was definitely afraid of. Speaking in front of people, I always think I’m going to fumble over my words, or things like that. But like I said, when you’re put in a situation in which you kind of have to step outside your box, it only makes you a better person at the end of the day, you know. So the library has helped me by exposing something of myself that I never knew. I want to show people how diverse librarians are. You know, we’re not just- I want to say book smart. We don’t know just a lot about books. We know a lot of life lessons, you know, because we come from all different walks of life.

Only registered users can comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *