According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2020, approximately 1.26 million persons were incarcerated in the United States. Research shows that increasing the literacy rates and strengthening the library and information access opportunities for det
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2020, approximately 1.26 million persons were incarcerated in the United States. Research shows that increasing the literacy rates and strengthening the library and information access opportunities for detained and formerly detained individuals often correlates to successful rehabilitation and reentry (Hall, 2021). The American Library Association, through its members, works to provide library services to these persons, as well as their families.
This resource guide provides information on providing library services within correctional institutions, including ALA policies and standards, a select bibliography, directories of organizations that support library services and intellectual freedom for justice-involved individuals, along with resources for libraries to provide justice-involved individuals upon reentry into their communities.
An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights states "The American Library Association asserts a compelling public interest in the preservation of intellectual freedom for individuals of any age held in jails, prisons, detention facilities, juvenile facilities, immigration facilities, prison work camps and segregated units within any facility."
Since 1994, the Women’s Prison Book Project (WPBP) has provided women and transgender persons in prison with free reading materials covering a wide range of topics from law and education (dictionaries, GED, etc.) to fiction, politics, history, and women’s health.
The Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS) has taken over responsibility for issues related to library services for incarcerated populations after the dissolvement of the American Library Association (ALA) member division, Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), which previously assisted the ALA Council in establishing standards for service for libraries in correctional institutions.
In 2021, a task force of correctional library workers and other institution stakeholders headed by the ODLOS began work on a massive reimagining of the ALA's 1992 Library Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions. The new Standards will heed the current phenomenon of mass incarceration, the inequitable incarceration rates of BIPOC individuals, and the rising rates of incarceration of women (especially women of color). It will pay special attention to the incarceration of LGBTQIA+ individuals, undocumented individuals, and youth, as well as to the information needs of returning individuals.
A $2 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support a collaboration between the ALA and San Francisco Public Library's (SFPL) Jail and Reentry Services program. The initiative aims to locate library services to incarcerated people and to support the development of new services.
A list of books to help children understand what it means to have an incarcerated family member. It was developed in 2009 by the Quicklists Consulting Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). Now archived.
HOPE currently works in conjunction with the PA State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill. The program pairs carefully screened inmates with shelter dogs. For eight to ten weeks, they work with a trainer to give the dogs skills to help them find a forever family.
Working with Everglades ReEntry and Everglades Correctional Institute, inmates are selected to train shelter dogs, in hopes of getting them adopted.
Contributors to this Guide
Born in Ohio, Michelle grew up in Southwest Florida and attended State College of Florida (MCC) for her AA degree. Afterwards, she transferred to the University of South Florida in Sarasota for her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. Upon graduation, she went to work for the Sarasota County School District as a classroom teacher. In 2005, she returned to USF Sarasota to earn a Master’s in Reading. Reading skills and concepts are essential to learning and therefore always embedded in her lessons, regardless of the subject she is teaching.
In 2022, looking towards the future and possibly leaving the classroom, she returned to USF, Tampa this time, to pursue a library and information science degree. With her teaching experience and new knowledge acquired through this degree, she looks forward to helping children and families as a classroom teacher or public librarian for many years to come.
Kyairla is a full-time student in the MLIS program at the University of South Florida. In addition to this, Kyairla serves as president for the program’s student organization, SOLIS, which are the combined student chapters of the American Library Association and the Special Libraries Association.
Kyairla previously graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. She currently works as a senior curriculum assistant at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. Kyairla hopes to work in academic libraries upon graduation.
Library Services for the Justice Involved (LSJI) is an interest group for library professionals, students, correctional staff, volunteers, or anyone who serves the underserved in correctional settings (prison, jail, detention centers, state mental health institutes, juvenile facilities) or justice-involved individuals (those in halfway houses, community corrections, sober living, transitional housing, on parole, or the formerly incarcerated).
Since 1930, CEA has provided leadership, direction, and services to correctional educators and institutional correctional education programs around the world. CEA has also been the only professional advocacy group for juvenile justice and adult correctional education to the private sector, political organizations, and social agencies in the United States.
The objective of this document is to provide a tool for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of library services to prisoners. The document is intended to serve as a model guide for the development of national guidelines for prison libraries. It can be easily adapted to reflect local circumstances.