Libraries in Australian Juvenile Justice Facilities

Parkville Justice Centre sign

Dr Jane Garner

In late 2019, I undertook a unique study of the status of libraries in Australia’s juvenile justice facilities. The goal of the study was to discover how many libraries were in our juvenile justice facilities, how they were staffed, funded, and used by the young people living in correctional detention. As each facility houses a registered secondary college that all residents must attend, there was a particular interest in how these libraries were contributing to the education of detainees.

My preliminary findings identify that there are sixteen juvenile justice facilities in Australia, and of these, twelve provide some sort of library service to their residents. Of those twelve libraries, none are staffed by a person with library training, five are no more than a collection of books in a classroom, while the remaining seven have their own dedicated space. The collections of seven of the twelve libraries play a role in the educational programs of the facility, with that role ranging from the provision of reading materials for kids in ‘time out’ due to disruptive behaviour in class through to teachers and students accessing the collection for resources that are relevant to the classroom activities and lessons. 

I will be publishing my detailed findings of the current provision of library services to Australian children living in correctional detention along with a discussion of the value of libraries to user groups such as these in the near future.

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