While donations from the Bloomington Community are absolutely essential to the work done by Pages to Prisoners, restrictions on the type of books that are allowed in jails and prisons (many facilities prohibit hardcover books, used books, and books with certain content), the limited shelf space at our project, and the nature of the type of requests we get from inmates mean that many of the donations we receive cannot be used to send to incarcerated people. Unfortunately, we have to take these unusable books to the recycling center. The process of sorting through books and recycling the unusuable texts can take up a lot of volunteer time and energy. So, you can help our project by weeding out books that we won’t be able to use prior to bring us your donation. This would be a great help that we really appreciate.
What We Don’t Need
- Romance Novels
- Popular Fiction geared only to a female audience (the majority of the people who request books from our project are men)
- Books about popular culture that are older than 10-15 years old
- Reader’s Digest condensed versions of books
- “Gift” books
- Very advanced/specialized textbooks or other academic books
- Multivolume Encyclopedias
- Books for young children
- Travel guidebooks
- True crime (many facilities prohibit these books)
- GRE test prep books
- Legal theory books, property, business law
Note: As many prisons and jails prohibit hardcover books, they are much less useful to our project than paperback ones.
What We Always Need
These are books that are often requested but not often donated.
- New or like new books
- African-American studies or fiction with African-American characters
- “Life skills” – personal finance, job skills, etc.
- Entrepreneurship/Real Estate/Small Business
- Spanish language books
- Technical and Vocational Skills (carpentr, auto mechanics, electronics, HVAC, etc.)
- Basic high school level textbooks for math and science
- Criminal and civil-rights law books, criminal case law, self-help legal books
- GED test prep books
We also keep an amazon wishlist of books either frequently requested or specifically requested and urgent. You can access that list here to purchase & donate.
*Some of the specifically requested titles are urgent because the person requesting is in a dire legal or medical situation. Needless to say, these donations are much appreciated.
We can always use these materials:
- clear packing tape
- packing tape dispensers
- packing paper
- blank white paper
If you are an IU or IVY Tech student, or otherwise have an extra print quota that you do not need, we have several documents that we always–always–need copies of:
- Form letters
- National Prisoner Resource List
- The Jailhouse Lawyer’s Handbook
- We the People (Legal Primer)
Checks can be made out to “Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project” and sent to our address listed below. You can donate to our project online using PayPal by clicking on the button below.