Library steals limelight at awards

Governor of HMP & YOI Grampian, Jim Farish is delighted to have won the Gold award
Governor of HMP & YOI Grampian, Jim Farish is delighted to have won the Gold award

The community library at HMP & YOI Grampian, Peterhead has won a Cosla Excellence Gold Award in the Achieving Better Outcomes category.

Aberdeenshire Council Library and Information Service joined with the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) in March 2014 to begin providing a ground-breaking local library service in the new jail.

A new approach to local authority library provision within HMP Grampian was part of the construction of the new prison building following evidence that access to reading, learning and literature contributes to reducing reoffending rates.

It is designed to operate like a local library, offering the same services.

Belonging to the prison library enables library users to use any of the Aberdeenshire libraries when they return to their home community.

Congratulating the library service on their award, councillor Isobel Davidson Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education Learning and Leisure Committee said: “There are several innovative aspects to the project.

“Not only is the partnership approach between SPS and the council unique but in particular the integration with the larger community serving Aberdeenshire Libraries and Information Service is truly innovative.

“This is the first library in a prison in Scotland which offers an integrated service.

Individuals are registered to the wider Aberdeenshire Library services on release to enable them to use their local library facilities.

“The positive habits and behaviour learned in prison are supported to continue after release.”

Mr Jim Farish, Governor of HMP & YOI Grampian, said: “We are delighted to have won the award with our partners for the excellent library facilities offered to offenders within the establishment.

“The library and the additional services have been extensively used and we will continue to encourage offenders to access the service.”

In 6 months the library at HMP has issued 4,237 items, 1,837 of those were DVDs.

This is significantly higher than a comparable small library in the community.

There are 700 registered members of the library with almost every prisoner joining, along with most of the staff.

An analysis of lending showed that the majority of issues were supporting prisoner interests such as keep fit or related to work opportunities in the prison such as the kitchens or the garden.