Books beyond bars: The transformative potential of prison libraries

  • August 2019

The human right to education is particularly important in the prison environment, as prisoners often come from disadvantaged socio-economic and educational backgrounds.

This publication explores the extent to which prison authorities fulfil their societal mandate to rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates by enabling them to use prison libraries to pursue their right to education.

Reading and using a prison library can open up a world beyond prison bars, allowing prisoners to forget for a time the harsh reality of prison life and empower them to choose their own reading materials in an otherwise extremely restrictive and regulated environment. Providing access to relevant books and information in various languages, including easy reading materials, is crucial for prisoners’ personal development.

This publication takes a closer look at selected examples of prison library systems around the world, outlining best practice and possible challenges, thus demonstrating their transformative potential as informational, educational, cultural and recreational meeting and learning spaces.

  • Author/Editor: Lisa Krolak
  • Books beyond bars: The transformative potential of prison libraries
  • UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, 2019
  • ISBN
  • Available in: English, French, German, Spanish