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article imageEdinburgh's Saughton Prison Library wins major industry award

By Gemma Fox     Jul 7, 2010 in World
Edinburgh - Less than two years after it was opened in a purpose built extension of Edinburgh's Saughton Prison, the prison library has won a major industry award.
The pioneering library has won the award in recognition of the impact it has in changing the lives of its inmates.
The library at HMP Saughton Prison was opened in November 2008 and yesterday they received the award for coming first in the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Libraries Change Lives Award. They were presented the award at a ceremony in London by BBC Radio 4 presenter Mark Lawson.
Welcoming more than 12,500 inmates through their doors in the first year of operation, the Saughton Prison Library is the only library in Scotland with waiting list.
Saughton Prison Library can also boast that their borrowers have learned a new respect for books as they've managed to reduce the damage done to books from a poor 80% to a fantastic zero.
The Edinburgh City Council website describes the library as follows:
The library's mission is to offer a service which addresses social inclusion issues amongst the prison population and provides support opportunities for education and employment, thereby improving the transition from prison to outside community life.
The Saughton Prison Library is staffed by experienced City of Edinburgh Council librarian Kate King.
Convenor of Culture and Leisure for the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Deirdre Brock said, "Winning this award is a tremendous honour for our Libraries service. Through their dedication, vision and hard work, they have achieved something quite remarkable at HMP Edinburgh (Saughton), and have unquestionably changed people's lives. It has been an enormous success in helping prisoners to improve their literacy and employability, reducing their risk of re-offending upon release. My heartfelt congratulations to all our superb staff."
Senior Manager, Dorset Libraries, and chair of the Libraries Change Lives Award judging committee, Linda Constable said, "This project demonstrates and evidences ‘changing lives’, and has made a huge impact on all the prisoners and the staff working in the prison. In addition, Kate’s approach, empathy and passion has driven this life-changing work, not only in the prison, but on release by giving prisoners improved life-chances, which in turn have a wider impact on their families, communities and society in general. It is our hope that the partnership work that has taken place at Edinburgh HMP will be an inspiration for similar projects around the country."
Library Development Officer at Edinburgh City Libraries, Ian Kirkby said, "Our work and focus is in making the prison library work to reduce re-offending and in supporting healthier local communities. None of us set out to seek awards - however it is delightful and uplifting to be acknowledged by our profession for our work in this project and a reaffirmation of the value of libraries in our communities."
One of the prisoners who utilises the library services within the prison said, "When I first came into jail I found it really hard to read because I wasn’t good at concentrating and I would have to read the same paragraph over and over but after persisting with it and practising all the time, I find reading just as easy as breathing. I have to admit that reading is now a hobby for me. I love it and I would be lost without it as it’s helped me through my sentence."
The other two finalists were Home From Home, a project undertaken in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and MacMillan Information and Support Services through the Manchester Library and Information Services.
More about Saughton prison, Edinburgh, Library, Cilip, Literacy
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