Reading to Educate and Reform: The Books and the Libraries of the Port Arthur Penal Establishment

By Mary Carroll.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the nineteenth century, the British penal establishment of Port Arthur sat incongruously amongst the bleak and remote landscape of the Tasman peninsula in the Australian colony of Van Diemen’s Land. This place, known infamously for its harsh regime of solitude, corporal punishment and unremitting labour, seems an unlikely place for books to find a home. Yet, as will be discussed, books and reading had an important role to play in the life of the settlement and of the convicts sent there. This paper will discuss preliminary work into the collections of these prison libraries and their collections, and establish the context for their development as a case study on the use of books and libraries in the reformation of character in the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Library History, Education History, Books and Reading, Prison Libraries

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.45-51. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 267.688KB).

Dr. Mary Carroll

Lecturer, School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Mary Carroll is currently a lecturer in the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga,Australia. In 2011, she was an Early Career Development Fellow in the School of BITL, RMIT University in Melbourne Australia. Previously, she worked for many years in the vocational education sector as an educator in the library and information science discipline. Her research interests are in the history of vocational education and library and information science education in Australia.

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