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Experiencing time in prison: the influence of books, libraries and reading

Jane Garner (School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University Faculty of Arts and Education, Wagga Wagga, Australia)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 31 March 2020

Issue publication date: 10 August 2020

1642

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to explore the influence of books, libraries and reading on the experience of time within the prison environment.

Design/methodology/approach

Using semi-structured interviews with Australian adult prisoners, and a phenomenological data analysis method, the researcher has been able to identify lived experiences that explain how books, libraries and reading influence the experience of time, within a prison environment.

Findings

Prisoners' experience of time differs from the experience of time outside prison. Unlike readers and library users outside prison, prisoners are motivated to use books, libraries and reading to pass time. They are using books, libraries and reading to assist in their struggle to manage the negative effects of excessive quantities of unstructured time.

Research limitations/implications

Research regarding the motivation to read and use libraries in the general population does not identify the desire to pass time as a factor. In contrast, the current study identifies readers and library users in prisons are strongly motivated to read and visit libraries as a means of passing time. This study adds a new understanding of the motivation to read and visit libraries within prison environments and provides insight into the beneficial influence of prison libraries on prisoner wellbeing.

Originality/value

This research contributes valuable new knowledge regarding the experience of time in prison, and the influence of books, libraries and reading on this experience.

Keywords

Citation

Garner, J. (2020), "Experiencing time in prison: the influence of books, libraries and reading", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 76 No. 5, pp. 1033-1050. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-07-2019-0128

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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