Experiencing time in prison: The influence of books, libraries and reading

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this article is to explore the influence of books, libraries and reading on the experience of time within the prison environment.

Design/methodology/approach
Using semi-structured interviews with Australian adult prisoners, and a phenomenological data analysis method, the researcher has been able to identify lived experiences that explain how books, libraries and reading influence the experience of time, within a prison environment.

Findings
Prisoners' experience of time differs from the experience of time outside prison. Unlike readers and library users outside prison, prisoners are motivated to use books, libraries and reading to pass time. They are using books, libraries and reading to assist in their struggle to manage the negative effects of excessive quantities of unstructured time.

Research limitations/implications
Research regarding the motivation to read and use libraries in the general population does not identify the desire to pass time as a factor. In contrast, the current study identifies readers and library users in prisons are strongly motivated to read and visit libraries as a means of passing time. This study adds a new understanding of the motivation to read and visit libraries within prison environments and provides insight into the beneficial influence of prison libraries on prisoner wellbeing.

Originality/value
This research contributes valuable new knowledge regarding the experience of time in prison, and the influence of books, libraries and reading on this experience.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Documentation
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2020

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