Call Number Podcast: Services for the Incarcerated

Episode 89 discusses creative programs in prison libraries

November 13, 2023

Episode 89: Services for the Incarcerated

Libraries can be a lifeline for incarcerated or detained individuals and their families. In Episode 89, Call Number discusses creative programs in prison libraries.

First, poets and prison reform activists Reginald Dwayne Betts and Randall Horton talked with former ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall back in an interview conducted last July. Betts and Horton, who were formerly incarcerated, now spearhead respective literary program: Betts founded Freedom Reads, which installs 500-book Freedom Libraries in prisons and juvenile detention centers, and Horton cofounded Radical Reversal, which holds literary and musical workshops and creates performance and recording spaces in detention centers and correctional facilities. They discussed the importance of access to books while incarcerated, how censorship creates barriers to that access, and what they hope for ALA’s newly revised Standards for Library Services for the Incarcerated or Detained.

Then, American Libraries Associate Editor and Call Number host Diana Panuncial speaks with Lisa Prins, manager of adult and community education, and Allison Sivak, faculty engagement librarian, both at University of Alberta in Edmonton. In 2022, the university launched its Correspondence Book Club at the Edmonton Institution for Women, which provides women who are incarcerated with themed writing and art-making prompts. They were joined by Mariel Silva, a formerly incarcerated individual and former book club participant.

Note: The sound quality in the Correspondence Book Club segment varies.

For more on ALA’s newly revised Standards for Library Services for the Incarcerated or Detained and our episode guests, check out our November/December feature story, “Lighting the Way.”

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