Volunteering @ Books To Prisoners | It's a Literary Thang

by Lisa M Pirlot, MLIS

It's 6:30pm, Tuesday, early spring. Suspiciously anxious iSchoolers are lurking furtively in a dark alley. What subversive, illicit shenanigans might they be up to? Why are they sneaking into a large, labyrinthine basement on a cold and dismal night? Even more importantly, it's the end of the quarter - why aren't they STUDYING?!

BTP volunteers Wendy Clark, Michelle Hudson, and Kathleen Loebig.

Fear not! These suspicious actions obscured legitimate and noble intentions. Enthusiastic info-heads representing iServe, the Information School's service organization, were merely visiting Books To Prisoners (BTP) headquarters to lend a hand. They opened letters from prisoners all over the country requesting reading materials. They scoured the small library of donated materials for the best match.

Finally, they filled out paperwork and compiled everything so it was ready to be packaged and shipped off to the eager reader. Requests ranged from 'send me anything' to specific authors, titles, and/or subjects. Demand for BTP's service is so high they were still answering letters written in November.

So if you are afraid of dark alleys, but love books and want to be a part of sharing them with an under-served population, keep your hyper-sensitive information receptors primed for news of future BTP visits and iServe events.

With the characteristic skill and cunning that define the next generation of information professionals, Linda Marie Barton and Jamie Hancock scour BTP shelves for the perfect match to prisoner requests.

BTP is open every Monday and Tuesday night. Visit the website for more info:

"Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States. BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities. By sending books to prisoners, we hope to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement."

BTP opportunities abound, even if you're a distance student:

* There are Olympia, Portland and Bellingham BTP organizations. See the BTP website for contact information.
* You don't reside in these lovely locations, either? No excuses! You can help them with grant writing, entirely from home!
* Or, this website may list a 'books to prisoners' project/organization near you:

For other life-altering and exponentially mind-blowing service opportunities, sign up for the iServe listserv (spam-free guarantee!) here:


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Page last updated: June 8, 2007