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Books Behind Bars: The Role of Books, Reading, and Libraries in British Prison Reform, 1701-1911 (Contributions in Librarianship and Information Science)

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This is an original and scholarly study of the role of books and libraries in British prisons during the period of penal reforms between 1700 and 1911. Janet Fyfe discusses the role of groups and individuals who advanced the ideology of reform as well as those who were actively engaged in bringing reading material into the jails and prisons of Great Britain.

Perhaps Fyfe's most valuable contribution to the field is her rich bibliography of primary sources; these include a wealth of official reports, government publications, books and pamphlets spanning the two centuries covered in her investigation of prison libraries. She examines the extent that different penal institutions and systems--including not only local jails and national prisons but also convict settlements and the hulks--came to adopt the use of books and libraries and their rationales for doing so. The author documents in detail how prison library services were organized, how they were administered and funded, how books were selected, and what consideration was given to the preference of inmates.

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