Enclosed Spaces, Boundless Possibilities: Investigating the Status Quo of Romanian Prison Libraries Through a Survey-based Approach
Keywords:prison libraries, jails, disadvantaged communities, prisoners, education, Romania
The purpose of this study is to draw attention to the current state of Romanian prison libraries by focusing on such aspects as the legal framework under which they operate, their organization and facilities, the management of their collections and the policies employed to this end, the staff in charge of these structures, as well as library usage and satisfaction. Moreover, the present study aims to highlight the main obstacles and difficulties that Romanian prison libraries are struggling with at the moment, and to provide a few minimal recommendations for the improvement of their services and overall quality. In order to elicit relevant data, a questionnaire – comprising 48 both open and close-ended items – was designed and mailed to the 45 existing Romanian correctional facilities between early December 2021 and mid-January 2022. Albeit the response rate was 66.6%, the author has managed to identify a number of common issues that prevent Romanian prison libraries from functioning at an optimal level, such as the insufficient funding and inadequate space, the lack of professionally trained librarians, and the absence of a coherent collection development policy. Although those in charge of prison libraries strive to make the best of the available resources – and there are a few notable cases –, Romanian prison libraries are in dire need of both financial and managerial remodeling.
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