Working, studying and other activities on the inside
The prison library
Will the prison have a library that I can use?
All prisoners have the right to regular access to prison library services, as far as this is practicable.
Most prisons will have a library service that is run by either prison librarians or volunteers. Often there will also be a small library within your particular unit, as well as the bigger prison library.
If you’re a low- or medium-security prisoner then a community or city library bus may come out to your prison, and you’ll be able to get a library card that will let you use that library bus.
When can I use the library?
Each prison will have its own rules for how its library operates and when it can be used. However, you should get regular access to your prison’s library service.
What books and information are available from the library?
The prison library service should have adequate books, magazines and other information to help you with your education and study. It should also have general recreational material, including fiction and non-fiction books and magazines.
Any books, magazines or other information that’s classed as “objectionable” won’t be available. This includes material that is:
- openly violent or to do with the occult
- gang-related, or:
- that the prison staff think could interfere with the security and good order of the prison.
If the prison library doesn’t have a book I want, can I order it from another library?
You may be able to do this by asking the librarian and prison staff to arrange it.
How many books can I take out?
The number of books you can have out at any one time will depend on each individual library and how it’s run. Some libraries are more restrictive than others.
Can family and friends give books to the prison library?
Yes – anyone can donate books to the prison library service. However, the books won’t be accepted if they are classed as “objectionable.
What if I disagree that a book is objectionable?
You should contact the Ombudsman or the prison inspector about this. See the chapter “Support” for contact details