Reading Books is Not a Privilge

When Poplar Library first opened I found it a wondrous place. I was allowed to take out two books for two weeks. If I took a book out in the morning and read it by the afternoon (which I often did) I was not allowed to take out another book that same day. I never thought of reading the books in the library.

Whatever the faults as I found them in the very small library on the Lansbury Estate in Poplar in the late fifties and the early sixties I could read, eventually, any one of hundreds of books, books that made me laugh, books that made me think and books that made ne filled with wonder. The more that I read, the greater my curiosity.

I learned that a year ago English and Welsh prisons limited the amount of books that prisoners could receive in parcels and restricted the number of books that they inmates could borrow from the prison library. I am sure that the bans, like all these bans, were introduced for the best possible reasons but miss the essential point of books. They are still the best means of communicating and understanding the ideas of others and as such are more important than any other means of potential rehabilitation. Recently Mr Justice Collins, in overturning the ban pointed out that reading books in prison is not a privilege.

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