2008-01-19Konferenzveröffentlichung DOI: 10.18452/1298
Keeping Libraries Alive Behind Bars
A Study of NSW Corrective Services Libraries
Libraries in prisons in Australia are traditionally repositories of old, second hand books, staffed (if at all) by an inmate who can hopefully read. The NSW Department of Corrective Services is attempting to change this situation with a number of innovative strategies. The first step was to centralise the management and budget of all libraries (staff and inmate) under a single manager. This has enabled the supply of new, good quality library resources in a cost effective and coordinated manner. It also quarantines the library budget from being used to pay for other prison related activities. The next step has been to provide properly qualified staff for these libraries, to ensure that these improved resources are used effectively. As the budget is not adequate to employ civilian staff for all the libraries (currently there are 48 libraries), inmates are recruited for the position of Inmate Library Clerk and offered the opportunity to complete a recognised training qualification in library science. This paper will discuss the challenges and opportunities of implementing and operating this system and the resulting short and long term advantages for the Inmate Library Clerk and the other inmates. It will also discuss the advantages of this system for the staff in the prisons as well as the society in general, to which most of the inmates will eventually return. It will also discuss the technical, legal, political and social implications of providing library services and inmate library training within the Prisons, and the challenges that are faced by the library staff, both inmate and civilian, when working in libraries in a correctional environment.
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