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Library services to prisons began in March 2000 when the University Women’s Association Executive visited Nsukka prison and learned of inmates’ educational, informational and recreational needs. Most inmates are young men awaiting trial, many of them school dropouts. The Children’s Centre first delivered a portable library containing over 100 books and magazines.
The first two years the library was operated by the Children’s Centre Committee and located in the chapel. Significant gains were recorded during the third year, when ACP T. Ndukwu, the new head of the prison, allocated a small one-room building for the library and assigned a warder to library duties full-time.
Nsukka Prison Library received materials from People United for Libraries in Africa (PULA), delivered in 2005 by a delegation including the Patron and President of UWA and members of the Children’s Centre prison library sub-committee. Favorite donations over the years include comic books, National Geographic Magazines, novels and textbooks.
Comic book writing for literacy development was introduced in 2017, with weekly workshops by a team from the Children’s Centre Committee and Department of Library and Information Science. Inmates developed literacy and entrepreneurial skills in such areas as planning, organization, presentation, writing, and visual literacy.
In December 2005 a new Library was started at the Awka Prison in neighboring Anambra State. The opportunity arose when the head of the Nsukka prison, ACP T. Ndukwu, was transferred to Awka. The library was initially developed by Jill Dike, Maureen Okpala and Vicky Kachi with donations by the Children’s Centre, PULA and friends at Awka.
ASP Ndukwu also introduced classes in the library preparing inmates for primary and secondary school examinations. This has evolved into a recognized school and examinations center for junior and senior secondary education and a center for the National Open University of Nigeria.
To accommodate these classes, one of the NYSC members teaching in the school funded construction of a four-classroom block, one room of which serves as reading room for the library.
Children’s Centre, in collaboration with Libraries for Literacy Foundation and the Nigerian Prisons Service, Anambra State held a 3-day training workshop on literacy development through comic book writing from Oct. 16-18, 2017. Participants were the welfare officers in charge of the four prison libraries and librarians working nearby. These skills were to be imparted to inmates in the four prisons at Awka, Onitsha, Aguata and Nnewi. (See Newsletter 17)
Since I got myself in prison I have been laying down thinking how I managed to be here, but when it is time for that, I will come to bring a book to make me have something doing, so from that, I start thinking of something to be in future.
The library is good for me because it made me grow well in my study. It gives me joy whenever I come to the library to read a book.
It has alleviated my suffering at least for a while.
The library has helped me a lot in knowing what is happening outside this yard and beyond our nation Nigeria.
The library is very good because it teaches us a lot of things in our life so far. So I love the library.