What is it about?

We read and visit libraries for many reasons, however one of those reasons is not likely to be the desire to pass unstructured time. This article shows that the opposite is true for prisoners who are choosing to read and visit libraries to pass unstructured time. Reading and libraries in prisons also have the ability to alter the experience of time itself.

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Why is it important?

My research shows that the devastating effects of being in prison can be reduced through visiting a prison library and by reading books. Having too much spare time available to us can lead to serious mental health and behavioural issues for prisoners, but reading books and visiting the prison library can change the way prisoners experience their time inside and improve their wellbeing.


This was an interesting article for me to write as I thought that using libraries, books and reading to fill in unstructered time was common across all sorts of people, but I was surprised the people other than prisoners tend to not use books, libraries and reading in this way. I was also surprised by the fact that having too much spare time can have very damaging effects on us, and was pleased to find that prisoners have found ways to cope with this by reading and using their libraries. I was very pleased to tell these people's stories and to be able to share with my readers something of life in prison

Jane Garner
Charles Sturt University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Experiencing time in prison: the influence of books, libraries and reading, Journal of Documentation, March 2020, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/jd-07-2019-0128.
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