Donations refresh prison library shelves

4 February 2011

A story about a book group and creative writing class, held in the Arohata Prison library once a week, has resulted in donations of thousands of high-quality books for the Wellington women's prison and other prison libraries throughout New Zealand.

Maggie Rainey-Smith, a writer and the volunteer who runs the groups, is delighted at the response. So too is Alison Tong, library co-ordinator at Arohata Prison.

“We’ve received a huge variety of genres, which is fabulous for the collection,” Alison says. “The women are relishing all the new books on the library shelves. The response from the community was extremely generous and I think it reflects the fact that readers really understand the hunger to read and are keen to share books they have enjoyed.”

The article, published on Arts Access Aotearoa’s website and in the Sunday Star Times, asked for donations of high-quality books in excellent condition.

Lori Smaling, Area Librarian for Rimutaka, Arohata and Wellington Prisons, co-ordinated the donations. It was an enormous task, she says.

“The response to the call for book donations was absolutely phenomenal. In fact, I am still fielding enquiries and were it not for the help of volunteer Patricia Morrison I would have been completely overwhelmed.
“Nearly all of the books donated were good value, with some surpassing my expectations. The monetary value of the books received was in the thousands of dollars ... I can only hazard a guess as to perhaps $12,000. Possibly more.
 “I had contact with many authors who donated books and are willing to donate more in the future and also who sent donations of cash to purchase book/s with. A valuable network has been set up.”

The Department of Corrections is grateful for the generosity of New Zealanders.



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