Inmates of a central prison in Kerala will soon have e-books in their hands, thanks to a digital library being set up in the jail premises, which is considered as the first such facility in southern India.
Authorities of Poojappura Central Prison, one of the oldest recorded prisons in the state, are busy completing the final works of the innovative library, which will open the infinite world of e-books to its 1,300 inmates.
Being implemented with the support of public sector State Bank of Travancore, the e-library is envisaged to cultivate the reading habit among the inmates and bring positive changes in their outlook towards life and society, jail sources said.
Under the facility, prisoners can read not only digitised collection of books but also e-books using the Amazon Kindle reader, an application, they said.
"I feel the reading habit is very strong among prisoners because options for recreation and relaxation are limited for them. But due to security reasons, we can allow only a limited number of them at the library at a time," Jail Superintendent S Santhosh told PTI.
Senior prisoners of each block now collect books for interested inmates and distribute it in their cells.
But the opening up of e-library is expected to help overcome this difficulty and give more people access to the library facilities, he said.
"Inmates will be given training to use the applications and gadgets to read e-books. It will help them get an easy access to whichever books they want," Santosh said.
"Thus the e-library will not only help them read their favourite books online, but also make them e-literates," he said.
To use the e-library, interested inmates would be given digital identity cards with bar codes. They could walk to the library, being set up at the 11th block of the sprawling prison, hand over their digital ID cards to the librarian and search for their favourite books in the computers there.
The prison already has a huge library with a collection of over 15,000 books, ranging from literature to science.
"A software, comprising details like names of all the 15,000 books, authors and its brief summary, has been developed as part of the project. Prisoners can walk straight to the library and choose their favourite book from computers with the help of the software," he said.
There would be no need for them to spend more time before book shelves searching books, he added.
"Our aim is to provide our inmates all facilities of a modern library. They should get a cultural delight while visiting there. We hope this modern library will also instill a sense of self-esteem in them," Santhosh said.
SBT is the funding agency for the ambitious e-library initiative and a total of Rs five lakh was earmarked for it, Santhosh said, adding that the facility was expected to be inaugurated in a week's time.
Poojappura prison has already been in the news for a number of rehabilitation and welfare initiatives implemented for its inmates.
The low cost but quality-rich chapati-chicken curry combo dished out by the prisoners here and shirts designed and stitched by inmates are already a hit in the market.
Emulating the model of the Food Court run by inmates of Tihar Jail in New Delhi, a cafeteria, serving lip-smacking delicacies prepared by prisoners, was also opened adjacent to the prison by the authorities for foodies.