Nsukka Prison Library
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, assisted by Library and Information Science students doing their final year projects on the prison library and by National Youth Service Corps members posted to the Children’s Centre. The library was located in the chapel and opened at most two mornings a week. Significant gains were recorded during the third year, when the new head of the prison allocated a small one-room building for the library and assigned a warder to library duties full-time.
Among donations, the 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 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.
Awka Prison Library
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.
Libraries were created in all the prisons in Anambra State in 2017 through generous donations of book collections and furniture by ZODML. On its own part, 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 will be imparted to inmates as in-house workshops are held in the four prisons at Awka, Onitsha, Aguata and Nnewi early in 2018. (See Newsletter 17 for more on the workshop). The inmates have enthusiastically embraced the service, which relieves boredom, engages their minds, enriches their outlook, and affords opportunities for self-improvement. (See Publications by Dike and Ajogwu for further information.) The inmates’ response is typified by the following comments: