Prison Libraries


Journal of the Librarian Who Went to Prison for Money.
Written by Glennor Shirley, fomer correctional librarian and advocate for social justice. The eBook discusses the positive transformation of the prisoners who used the prison libraries to educate themselves.
Library Services to the Incarcerated: Applying the Public Library Model in Correctional Facility Libraries by Sheila Clark and Erica MacCreaigh
Learn how to provide exemplary library service to individuals in prison or jail, by applying the public library model when working with inmate populations. ISBN 978-1591582908.
The Prison Library Primer: A Program for the Twenty-First Century by Brenda Vogel
This book details operating and promoting a correctional library: collection development; location, space planning, and furnishing suggestions; information on court decisions and legislation affecting prisoners' rights. ISBN 978-0810854031.


Prisoners Right to Read

An interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights adopted in 2010; amended in 2014 and 2019, this is a North Star document intended to outline what correctional libraries do.

Library Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions
Numerical standards for access, staffing, seating and collection for adult correctional institution libraries.


Glennor Shirley
Retired prison librarian Glennor Shirley talks to NPR about her two decades in correctional libraries in Maryland and how she viewed her responsibility to her patrons.


American Correctional Association (ACA)
A professional organization for all individuals and groups, both public and private that share a common goal of improving the justice system.
American Jail Association (AJA)
A national, nonprofit organization that supports jail staff with training and best practices.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Occupational, educational and disability resources to assist those formerly incarcerated with reentry.
National Institute of Corrections (NIC)
NIC provides training, technical assistance, information services, policy and program development assistance to Federal, state, and local corrections agencies.
The Osborne Association
An organization using public education, advocacy, and alternatives to incarceration in an effort to reform and rehabilitate.  The Osborne Association features the following resources:

Humanizing Language

Children of Incarcerated Parents

Aging in Prison

The Sentencing Project
An advocacy center working to reduce incarceration in the United States and to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


Ear Hustle
An award-winning Radiotopia podcast straight out of San Quentin in California: “The daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration.”


Children of Incarcerated Parents, a Shared Sentence
A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation subtitled “The Devastating Toll of Parental Incarceration on Kids, Families and Communities.”
Get Inside: Jail and Prison Library Service
Brooklyn Public Library’s Nicholas Higgins published this PLA Quick Reads title in 2017 to share his insights and knowledge of providing library services inside prisons and jails. Free download for PLA members, or $22 for ALA members.
UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) policy brief 11 “How prison libraries support rehabilitation efforts”
Available for free download. This policy brief is based on the findings of the UIL publication Books beyond bars: The transformative potential of prison libraries. It has been further refined through consultation with the global IFLA Working Group on Prison Libraries.


Children of Incarcerated Parents resource page
This page from the National Center for Homeless Education has a host of resources and information about children whose parents are incarcerated and the often ignored collateral costs of mass incarceration.
Prison Libraries: Resources for the Librarian (ALA)
Older articles and some more current resources about correctional librarianship, including books, organizations, and information about donations.
Data-Driven Librarianship in Corrections (DDLC)
A national NIC initiative with a webinar series featuring prison library programs across the country, instruction on library research practices, and links to other relevant research.
Updated by the ASGCLA Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained Interest Group, June 2020.
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