Estonian ministry: No plan to do away with libraries in jails

  • 2019-11-15
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Responding to an announcement by the Estonian Association of Librarians to the effect that the state is planning to do away with libraries in prisons, the Ministry of Justice said on Friday that no such plan exists.  

According to the ministry, in prisons the jobs of librarians and recreational officers will be brought together so that in the future libraries will be a responsibility of recreational officer-librarians who communicate more closely with inmates and know their needs and interests.

The work time of prison librarians to date has been spent largely on the performance of various technical tasks such as transportation of books, which can be reduced under new work arrangements.

A big portion of the books of prison libraries will be made available on shelves in prisons' living quarters where they can be browsed and taken to cells for reading on a day-to-day basis.

Under the previous work arrangement it was usually possible for inmates to get new books for reading once a month. The library will continue to keep count of books and keep track of their current locations, while the movement of books will be recorded in the information system. 

The purchase of books for the three prison libraries will in the future take place mainly by means of joint purchases to save on costs, while definitely keeping in mind the specifics of each prison. The orders will be compiled in collaboration between the prisons, the Ministry of Justice and experts of different fields. The funds earmarked for prisons for buying of books will not be reduced.

"We will definitely bring to prisons more contemporary Estonian literature and Estonian-Russian literature in the future. We are gladly prepared to introduce the work of said field and plans for the future to the Association of Librarians and listen to advice," the ministry said.