1981 - 1991

Black and white, landscape image of three men in a library. The image shows the corner of a room, with book shelves along both walls, meeting in the corner. There are seven shelves, each filed with books. Three male prisoners are seen looking at the reading material amongst the shelves. The man in the background is kneeling on the floor, the man in the middle is standing upright, while the man standing in the foreground is standing and bending over at the waist.

Historical information

Provenanced to Fremantle Prison. The photograph shows the library as it was set up in the southern Association Ward in the Main Cell Block from 1981 until 1991.



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Contextual Information

The photograph shows the library as it was set up in the southern association ward from 1981 until 1991. Bob Hind was the Officer in charge of the library during those years. Extra shelves were manufactured for the library in the metal shop and Bob Hind structured the room to allow for an office with windows, a work room, a waiting area and ample room for a reference section.

In the nineteenth century the Anglican Chaplain was responsible for selecting texts and overseeing the use of the Prison Library. It is not known where the Library was housed at this time, however by the early 1900s it was located in the Administration Wing of the Main Cell Block. By 1922 the Library boasted more than 3,000 books in its collection. It moved again, this time into what had been the Female Division, in the early 1970s, after the female prisoners had been transferred to the newly established Bandy up Women’s Prison. Prisoners were not allowed access into the Library at this time, and books were instead distributed by the ‘library man’, who delivered books to prisoners in their cells. Prisoners were only allowed one item from the Library at a time, and the selection of books available was limited. Prisoners often complained that they were not able to browse, and choose their own books.

In 1975 the Fremantle Prison Library opened as a branch of the Library Board of Western Australia which meant that, for the first time, prisoners had access to a frequently changing collection of reading material. Also for the first time, prisoners were able to access the library on a roster and choose what to read themselves. They were allowed to visit the Library weekly, and take out up to three books and two magazines at a time.

The Library dramatically increased its own collection, which reached approximately 10,000 books by the time the Prison closed in 1991. Prison Officer Bob Hind occupied the role of Prison Librarian from 1975 until the Prison closed. The Library was very popular amongst both prisoners and Prison Officers, and by June 1988, of the 269 prisoners at Fremantle, 209 were registered members of the Library.

The Library moved into its final location, the upper floor of the southern Association Ward in the Main Cell Block in 1981, where it remained until the Prison’s closure in 1991.

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Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison

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