Expanding Information Access for Incarcerated People is based in SFPL’s Jail and Reentry Services program. In coordination with the American Library Association (ALA), this project will identify existing library services for incarcerated people, support professionals in the field in building out or creating new services, solidify library services to incarcerated people as a focused area of concern within librarianship, develop digital literacy programming for people who are formerly incarcerated, and provide guidance for librarians working in juvenile detention centers, jails, and prisons nationwide.
In June of 2022, SFPL’s Jail and Reentry Services staff held an invitation-only convening of librarians to strengthen professional networks and provide best practices. Following this, they have collaborated with the Colorado State Library’s Library Research Service to identify where library services exist in juvenile detention centers, jails, and prisons and how to better support these services. SFPL's Jail and Reentry Services staff will hold an additional invitation-only convening of librarians in June of 2023.
During the two-year grant period, Jail and Reentry Services staff is building and refining an online map that shows where and what types of services are available to incarcerated people and includes other information resources that are available to incarcerated people. It will help librarians find one another and identify models that fit their library systems and locations and act as a tool that advocates, families, and friends of incarcerated people can utilize to find free books and information services for their loved ones inside.
Jail and Reentry Services staff are drawing on their professional network to create a virtual training series for librarians, library staff, and information providers who provide library services to people negatively impacted by incarceration. Trainings are currently being released and are available on the Jail and Reentry Services YouTube playlist at Jail and Reentry Services YouTube playlist (titles begin with "Training"). Librarians and library staff can receive a free certificate for viewing these trainings through ALA's learning platform.
The American Library Association is currently rewriting the Standards on library services for incarcerated people. The new version of the Standards will be submitted for ALA Council approval at the Annual Conference in June 2023. See information about the new version of the Standards.
Following the completion of a new set of Standards, ALA will distribute the Standards to librarians working in prison libraries across the country.
ALA will also research and prototype how libraries can support people who are formerly incarcerated develop their digital literacy skills.
Jail and Reentry Services staff were joined by Blythe Balestrieri, a colleague with background in legal librarianship, to share more information about the upcoming grant-related work. You can view the recording of this lecture.
Mapping Library Services
If your library provides library services to incarcerated people that aren’t represented on the map, please let us know!
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Meet the Jail & Reentry Services Team
“Libraries are a vital community resource perfectly positioned to engage our patrons during and after incarceration."
“I believe that libraries have the opportunity to provide information, books, and resources to our incarcerated patrons. We can collaborate with one another to build this needed resource."
“I believe that library services to people who are incarcerated is an impactful way to deliver on public librarianship’s core value of access.”
“Libraries are great because knowledge is power, and libraries offer free power to everyone!”
“I believe in the power of collaboration and look forward to supporting this project’s partners to advance our shared goals of expanding information access for incarcerated people.”
“From researching library incarceration services across the country and responding to inquiries from incarcerated individuals, I believe that access to information and books are transformative resources that should be available to everyone.”
Jail and Reentry Services staff are especially grateful for our advisory committee, which helps to guide our grant-related work. This committee consists of individuals who have been incarcerated or have incarcerated and previously incarcerated loved ones, groups that consist of currently and formerly incarcerated members, and experts on the types of information that people who are incarcerated most need and desire. The Advisory Committee members are:
- Michelle Dillon, representing Books to Prisoners
- Carmen Garcia, representing Root & Rebound
- Lee Gibson, representing Initiate Justice
- Rebecca Hernandez, PhD, Community Archivist, UC Santa Cruz University Library
- Wendy Jason, Justice Arts Coalition
- Jodi Lincoln, representing Pittsburgh Prison Book Project
- Zy'aire Nassirah, representing TGIJP
- Marilyn Perez, representing Young Women’s Freedom Center