CILIP believes that prisoner rehabilitation makes social and economic sense. Prison libraries and prison library staff play a key part in this by helping to improve prisoner literacy skills, encouraging a love of reading for pleasure and improving basic online skills
Prison libraries and professional library staff offer a neutral environment for prisoners outside of the formal education and learning provision within the prison.
A good professionally managed prison library can:
- Enable prisoners to develop new skills and improve existing skills
- Help prisoners to locate, understand and communicate appropriate information
- Provide opportunities for prisoners to maintain family links through reading projects
- Enhance the well being and raise the self esteem and aspirations of prisoners
- Mirror the service offered by public libraries and enable prisoners to develop the library habit during their sentence and after release
The Prison Rules (1999) states:
“A library shall be provided in every prison and, subject to any directions of the Secretary of State, every prisoner shall be allowed to have library books and to exchange them”.
Stock and staff are provided to the prison through service level agreements with the Public Library Authority and library staff are employed and managed by the provider (which in most cases will be the Public Library Authority).