Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained

Purpose of Interest Group:

The purpose of this interest group is to support those who serve patrons of any age who are held in jail, prison, detention or immigration facility.

Interest Group Leader:

Elizabeth Marshak, Librarian

Conference Programs:

Interest Group Meeting - Midwinter
Interest Group Meeting - Annual - TBD


  • You have the power to change lives.
  • Find out what the rules are and follow them. Ask questions. Write things down.
  • Be consistent.
  • Watch and learn.
  • People will do crazy things, you don't have to react to everything.
  • Maintain a healthy degree of skepticism. Trust your instincts.
  • Never forget that you work in a prison, where keeping the inmates in prison and keeping staff safe is going to take precedence over anything else we might do or want to do in the library.
  • Remember that you work with inmates, and no matter how "good" you think they are, they may be capable of some not so nice things.
  • Anything can be turned into a weapon.
  • Know the protocols for an emergency and follow when needed.
  • You should be vague but affirmative about what you plan to do. If you say you are going to do something, then you must do it.
  • Maintain a sense of humor

Useful Websites:

Professional Tools for Prison Libraries:
Library of Congress Guide to Law Online:
Legal Information Institute of Cornell University Law School:
Locating the Law Guide:
Prisoners Right to Read:
Library Services for Youth in Custody:
US Dept of Education, Office of Correctional Education:
Ex‐offenders and the Labor Market:
Information for libraries and librarians serving Latinos & Spanish- speaking communities:
Health Information from the NIH and NLM: