A change I want to see in prison education: Libraries – thinking out of the box

Home > A change I want to see in prison education: Libraries – thinking out of the box

25 November 2022

In this blog, PLA member Sheena Boll draws on her lived experience to describe a change she would like to see in prison education, why, and what difference it would make. Libraries can be a place for reflection, creativity and even mental escape. Sheena encourages us to think differently about how we use prison libraries, and what they can mean to people.

A place that is vibrant, colourful and resourceful…

A library within a prison serves endless possibilities:

  • A quiet space to learn and reflect
  • Online courses can be made available to study at one’s own pace
  • 1:1 mentoring with outside tutors or coaches
  • Prisoners can mentor each other eventually through a reward or achievements system
  • Audio, visual and kinaesthetic learning – audio books, picture books, online books and perhaps equipment or an online app where one can ‘do’ or put together an experiment or order things in mathematics, for example
  • Jobs for prisoners – keep the library tidy, put away books in order i.e. non-fiction books
  • Books can be lent out to prisoners, given good behaviour (supporting positive behaviour management). Here the outside world becomes less vague day by day
  • Rotation system can be used for prisoners to work in the library
  • Arts and crafts sessions – creative days for special occasions or events i.e. Christmas and birthdays
  • Prisoners are given their ‘own space’ to learn and grow as well as channel their energy
  • Reading stimulates the brain and also would help with mental health
  • It is a place to go that is not just four dull walls
  • Increased chances of employment
  • Prisoners can become educated in their desired field. Education is found to be linked to patience.

‘Thinking out of the box’ allows prisoners to be released for a short time from any mental strains they are facing. Their imagination can run wild. A space to learn, is a space to grow.


* This blog is an opinion piece by a PLA member and may not represent the views of all members. It is the third in a series – ‘A change I want to see in prison education’ – written by PLA members with lived experience.

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