The Department of Prisons is planning a slew of new initiatives to inculcate reading habits among the inmates. To start with, if everything goes according to plan, the inmates at the Central Prison, Poojappura, will soon make a foray into the world of e-books.

There are plans to implement e-book reading facilities in the computer labs and a proposal in this regard will be sent to the Union government soon. The project is estimated to cost Rs.4.5 lakh and with the successful completion of the project, the inmates can access as many as 25,000 e-books in different genre, Additional Director General of Police (Prisons) Alexander Jacob told The Hindu.

That’s not all, they would soon be able to connect with other libraries across the country and access a large collection of books and study materials. The department is planning to tie up with DELNET, a library networking society supported by the National Informatics Centre, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Ministry of Culture. This will enable effective resource sharing with more than 4,167 libraries under its network. “We are negotiating terms with the officials and are planning to launch it in some time”, said Mr. Jacob.

Apart from this, Rs.16 lakh has been allotted for this year’s library fund. A six-member committee under the chairmanship of novelist George Onakkoor will finalise the list of books to be purchased this year. The central library is also being renovated to have an additional seating capacity of 100 people. The benches and desks are being done by the carpentry unit at the prison.

To top it all, a few inmates at the Central Prison are brushing up their creative skills and coming together to bring out a collection of their works — poems, short stories and essays.

“An inmate has written close to 100 poems during his time at the prison. We contacted a publishing house and they are ready to take up the project. Few other works are in its final stages,” he added.