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Funding for Literacy

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In chapter two of Reading is my Window, Sweeney states: “In Ohio Prisons, the general libraries are funded entirely by revenue from each prison’s vending machines and commissary...” (57). The lack of funding for prison libraries is extremely outrageous, but what is even more outrageous is how much of the funding, going into prison programs that help alleviate recidivism. is “entirely” dependent on the prisoners themselves who have little to no resources and/or opportunities to earn wages. How can we expect  prison libraries to have good reading material, or any at all, if the monetary resources are not available?

The lack of funding for literacy purposes, reminds me of the similar struggles children of lower-socioeconomic families have to endure because of the inability to afford books in college. Although some schools offer “books and supplies” as part of the financial aid packages for students receiving government aid to attend higher educational institutions, many do not. Bryn Mawr is one such school that does not offer financial assistance toward school supplies or books. So the question remains as to how students with limited resources, financial or otherwise, are supposed to get the most out of their academic career if they cannot afford to buy the books for class. Furthermore, how do we expect lower socioeconomic students to fare well in comparison to other students when are not given an equal opportunity to achieve academic success? Bryn Mawr is an interesting example as well, because they also limited the printing limit, making it that much harder for students to access readings if they decided to print the book’s pdf version as opposed to buying it.

At Bryn Mawr feelings of inadequacy are always circulating, but this is especially true among the lower socioeconomic population on campus. I think that it is crucial to understand how such feelings can be attributed to the lack of funding for books (for it is not just books but literacy at stake), but I also think it is crucial to understand that these disparities persist once someone pursues a higher education.