"A little happy place": How libraries support prisoner well being

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the capacity for Australian prison libraries to support the ‘whole person’. Based on a phenomenological study of the experiences of using prison libraries by Australian adult prisoners, the article identifies three ways that prison libraries can reduce stress, and support positive mental health, and thereby serve the ‘whole person’ within their user groups. The study finds that prison libraries can support prisoner wellbeing by providing opportunities for autonomy, by acting as therapeutic spaces, and by supporting positive behaviour management. As a phenomenological study, the experiences of the prisoners regarding their libraries serving them as ‘whole people’ are described in their own words. We can hear the prisoners’ voices as they describe how their libraries contribute to their wellbeing. Through a study of prisoners’ lived experiences and how these experiences are reflected, or not reflected in the extant literature, it is possible to demonstrate that prison libraries do have the capacity to serve the ‘whole person’ and thereby support prisoner wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Australian Library and Information Association
Issue number4
Early online date28 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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