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Prison libraries serving the ‘whole person’: A qualitative study

Prison libraries serving the ‘whole person’: A qualitative study

Shreya Mishra, Manosi Chaudhuri , Ajoy Kumar Dey , Rishi Tiwari , Rupali Singh

Incarceration is a traumatic life experience for both convicted and non-convicted individuals and life in prison is not easy to get through. However, prison administrations often establish different avenues for the prisoners to help them navigate through their incarceration. One such avenue is prison libraries. This study explores the influence of the prison library in the lives of eight incarcerated individuals, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The study is based on the concept of the ‘whole person librarianship’ while using a phenomenological approach. The analysis resulted in the emergence of three broad themes: ‘Coming to term with incarceration’, ‘Library, a ray of hope’ and ‘Reinventing self through books’. The study expands our understanding of how the prison library can be a place that reduces stress and increases positive mental health by serving the ‘whole person’. Furthermore, it reduces stress and anxiety related to the state of liminality created by incarceration and gives inmates a purpose beyond prison. Thus, it helps them in making meaning of their situation, being mindful of themselves and their surroundings, healing them in the process, and supports their well-being. The findings suggest that books help the inmates to navigate their lives during incarceration.

Published in: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science

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