Freedom: A Prison Librarian's Perspective

Monday, June 17, 2013

We’re only a couple weeks away from Independence Day, and in anticipation of our nation’s birthday, we’re looking at the concept of freedom. What is it? How did it come to be an American value? And what does freedom mean to Americans today?

We begin our conversation with a man who has a unique perspective on freedom: Avi Steinberg. Avi has spent time behind bars, but not as an inmate, as a librarian. In turn, he has a unique perspective on the freedom books can bring a reader, and the limitations of prison bars.

Avi is the author of the memoir “Running The Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian.”


Avi Steinberg

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [3]

I ran a creative writing program for alternative high schools which included the schools on Rikers Island, the largest prison in New York City. The libraries were wonderful about stocking the poetry anthologies we published. "Streams" contained writing from all students including the incarcerated.

When I brought the anthologies to classes on the outside, it raised the level of motivation of the students to read and write. One young girl at the Brooklyn Frederick Douglass Literacy Center told me that her father was in prison and he thought the best thing that happened to him there was that he learned to write poetry. He was able to share his love of reading and writing with his daughter.

Books and libraries are important.

Jun. 17 2013 04:37 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I Kant believe that Americans feel free to read a book and explore how they feel about their lives only once they have been incarcerated. Wait a second I can believe it.

Jun. 17 2013 04:06 PM
amy from paris

what is the music you just played after this piece? I hate how the music is NEVER listed. Please tell me what it is. thanks.

Jun. 17 2013 04:00 PM

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