iSchool student develops prison book club

Christinna Swearingen

In her work at a women's prison in Illinois, MS/LIS student Christinna Swearingen noticed that while a lot of the prisoners loved books, many of them struggled to read. Her response to this problem was to create a Prison Book Club to engage readers at all levels of ability.

"I teach psychoeducational groups with women on a mental health unit, and these women are often left out of many activities," Swearingen said. "The book club was a way that I could give them something unique and fun. It is set up so there are opportunities for women to read on their own or come to 'readings,' during which I read from the book. We then combine the groups to have a discussion about the book."

According to Swearingen, the book club gives women something to look forward to, as many of them feel time passes so slowly while incarcerated. In addition to increasing literacy and the ability for the women to process what has been read, the club helps the prisoners connect with one another in a positive, respectful manner.

"I would love to someday have a projector to use with a downloaded book, so that those who struggle with literacy will be able to follow the words that I am reading and perhaps increase their reading skills," she said. "I plan on continuing to provide them with the book club for as long as I am employed at the prison, since steady engagement in an activity can be rather rare. I want to be able to give them this outlet for as long as they continue to be enthralled by it."

Swearingen, who holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Illinois State University, describes herself as a "huge bookworm," whose house is overrun with bookshelves. Her love of reading, combined with a fascination for data and technology, led her to the MS/LIS program at Illinois. She isn't sure what she will do after earning her master's degree but hopes her interests continue to lead her in the right direction.

"I would love to be able to continue to create meaningful change make a change in whatever position I pursue in the future," Swearingen said. 

Research Areas:
Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Recent graduate develops new open-access journal for anime and manga studies

During his time at the iSchool, recent MS/LIS graduate Billy Tringali established and launched the Journal of Anime and Manga Studies (JAMS), an open-access publication dedicated to providing an ethical, peer-reviewed space for academics, students, and independent researchers to share their research in the field of anime, manga, cosplay, and fandom studies. A fan himself, Tringali has been drawn to popular culture scholarship since he was an undergraduate studying English and anthropology at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Billy Tringali

Ludäscher Lab to present research at Philadelphia Logic Week

Professor Bertram Ludäscher will be presenting research with group members during Philadelphia Logic Week 2019. The event, which will be held from June 3-7 at St. Joseph's University, brings together several conferences dedicated to the research on logic, knowledge representation, reasoning, transformations and provenance.

Bertram Ludäscher

Takazawa defends dissertation

Doctoral candidate Aiko Takazawa successfully defended her dissertation, "'Tutteli to Japan': a Case Study of Spontaneous Collaboration in Disaster Response," on May 17.

Student award recipients announced at Convocation

Each year, the School recognizes a group of outstanding students for their achievement in academics as well as a number of attributes that contribute to professional success. The following student awards were presented at the School's Convocation ceremony on May 12, 2019.

Cheng receives fellowship for summer study in data science

Drexel University's College of Computing and Informatics has selected PhD student Jessica Cheng as a LEADS-4-NDP 2018-2019 Fellow. LEADS-4-NDP, the LIS Education and Data Science for the National Digital Platform program, is part of the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program.

Jessica Yi-Yun Cheng