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Libraries and Incarceration: Resources for Librarians

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

Books on Prison Library Management

Online Resources

Library Literature on Adult and Youth Incarceration

Adult Incarceration

Cauley, K. (2020). Banned Books behind Bars: Prototyping a Data Repository to Combat Arbitrary Censorship Practices in U.S. Prisons. Humanities9(4), 131.

Austin, J. & Villa-Nicholas, M. (2019) Information Provision and the Carceral State: Race and Reference beyond the Idea of the “Underserved”, The Reference Librarian, 60:4, 233-261.

Finlay, J., & Bates, J. (2018). What is the Role of the Prison Library? The Development of a Theoretical Foundation. Journal of Prison Education and Reentry5(2), 120-139.

Dunaway, S.E. (2017) ¿Dónde Está la Biblioteca? It's a Damn Shame: Outdated, Inadequate, and Nonexistent Law Libraries in Immigrant Detention Facilities, Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 36:1, 1-33.

Wright, B.N. (2016), "The Prison Law Library: A Fourteenth Amendment Necessity", Perspectives on Libraries as Institutions of Human Rights and Social Justice (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 41), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 209-228.

Rabina, D., Drabinski, E. & Paradise, L. (2016). Information Needs in Prisons and Jails: A Discourse Analytic Approach . Libri66(4), 291-302.

Kimberli, K. (2016) Inmate Legal Information Requests Analysis: Empirical Data to Inform Library Purchases in Correctional Institutions, Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 35:2, 135-146.


Youth Incarceration

Presa, L. R. (2023). A librarian’s dream helps turn a waiting area at Cook County Jail into an educational nook for children who visit the incarcerated. Chicago Tribune

Austin, J. (2019). Literacy Practices of Youth Experiencing Incarceration: Reading and Writing as Points of Regulation and Escape . Libri69(1), 77-87.

Styslinger, M. E., Gavigan, K., Albright, K. (2017). Literacy Behind Bars: Successful Reading and Writing Strategies for Use with Incarcerated Youth and Adults. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ownes, D., Tadgh, C. (2015). Tech Pilots in Juvenile Facilities Support Skills. Library Journal 140, no. 4: 25. 

Directories of Prison Libraries