This is a hopeful NPR piece about the library of the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. See the summary below and listen to the story.
Some 1,700 residents of the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland make very good use of their library. Most inmates will never win early release, so the library becomes a place to improve reading skills, write a letter home, watch an instructional video on auto mechanics or just escape, mentally. Host Liane Hansen visits the prison to talk with longtime prison librarian Glennor Shirley. Shirley runs the libraries for the entire Maryland prison system.
The Saint John’s Bible is the first illuminated, handwritten Bible of monumental size to be commissioned by a Benedictine Monastery in over 500 years. The project was commissioned by Saint John’s Abbey and University in 1998, it is being created by Donald Jackson, senior scribe to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
I was privileged to visit St. John’s University in June of 2009 and spending several hours before the New Testament volumes of the SJB, housed at the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library (HMML). My own experience is echoed in the words of Fr. Michael Patella, OSB, the Chair of the CIT, “The illuminations are not illustrations. They are spiritual meditations on a text. It is a very Benedictine approach to the Scriptures.”