"Almost like freedom": Prison libraries and reading as facilitators of escape

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Abstract

Escaping into a book is an experience valued by readers everywhere. Inhabiting the stories, and being exposed to the knowledge we find in books, and in the libraries that provide us access to these books is a common way to experience an ‘escape’ from unpleasant or difficult realities. What then is the experience of escapism provided by books and libraries for one specific community, with vastly restricted access to leisure activities, media and family? Through a phenomenological analysis of data gathered from Australian prisoners, it is found that prisoners are also able to experience a form of ‘escape’ through reading and using their libraries, and that this is a highly valued experience in their lives. The importance of access to a library and reading for prisoners is discussed with reference to existing knowledge regarding the relationship between libraries, books, reading and escapism for communities living in difficult circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Library Quarterly
Volume90
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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