I had to go to work yesterday, so no progress. But today was good as I found an American PhD thesis all about censorship in the American prison libraries which touched a bit on the value prisoners place on their libraries and some content from prison librarians. This led me to some further references from her bibliography that I will follow up. One in particular looks interesting. I like that I feel excited when I follow resource trails and find something good. I think this is a good sign!
This is a book that I have ordered on ILL:
And this is a review/summary of the book that I found interesting: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=30357
In reading today, I have been attracted to the ideas of how reading for recreation can benefit prisoners, in ways beyond the obvious time filling factor. There is something transformative about reading, fiction and auto/biographies in particular that can benefit prisoners. This is a line of discovery I could follow. My concern with this is that this topic may be about books and reading, and not about libraries.
An alternate idea that came up today in my reading that could be interesting is the idea of the value placed on the library by the prisoners. Several things I read to day talked about how the library in a prison was seen by the inmates as a sanctuary and neutral space, a safe place and the only place in the prison that provided an 'escape', comfort and the opportunity for some autonomous activity - reading and choosing the direction of the reading. This is interesting too and could have a topic in it somewhere.
I think a question I need to ask my supervisor relates to whether a thesis about the value placed on reading outside of education and legal needs can be a 'library thesis'? I think this is the line of enquiry that interests me most at the moment.