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Public Collectors

Library Excavations #3: Correctional Advertising 1979-1989

Paper cover with staple-bound binding 
Color offset and three-color Risograph
32 pages
5.5" x 8.5"
Edition of 516

The first issue of Library Excavations, which will be an ongoing Public Collectors booklet series. From the back cover:

The ads in this publication are taken from the industry periodical Corrections Today, the professional membership magazine of the American Correctional Association. The companies associated with these ads market to and represent the concerns of the prison industry. Common themes are: liability, preventing escape, demonstrating the durability of products against abuse, addressing overcrowding, surveillance, securing mechanical operations, and saving money. While some prisoners are depicted in humanizing ways, most often they are stereotypically brutish, mean or sad-looking and counter-factually almost exclusively white. They are nearly always male and commonly wear knit hats or a balaclava. The ads sell us cells or cages­­ that are strong, possibly modular or portable, cost-effective, and hard to conceal contraband in. Jokes are commonly made at the expense of the incarcerated. Each ad in this booklet is presented in its entirety (except for the center spread). I accessed issues of Corrections Today in the open stacks at the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center in April and May 2016. The year 1987 is missing from the library’s holdings. — Marc Fischer.