Episode 89: Services for the Incarcerated

Call Number Podcast: Services for the Incarcerated

November 13, 2023

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, … Continue reading Call Number Podcast: Services for the Incarcerated


Illustration of an incarcerated individual reading, with a colorful vision of home emerging from the book.

Lighting the Way

November 1, 2023

Betts founded Freedom Reads, an organization that installs 500-book Freedom Libraries in prisons and juvenile detention centers. Horton cofounded Radical Reversal, a program that creates performance and recording spaces in detention centers and correctional facilities, and conducts workshops that provide creative outlets for incarcerated people. American Library Association (ALA) Executive Director Tracie D. Hall interviewed … Continue reading Lighting the Way


On My Mind by Jules LeFort

Closing Access Gaps

November 1, 2023

In addition to having the option to take one college course per semester, incarcerated students can come to a computer lab once a week at their correctional facility. That’s where a student success specialist, a writing tutor, and I provide them with research assistance. My job is to answer questions and help students brainstorm search … Continue reading Closing Access Gaps


Jeanie Austin speaks at a podium during a session at ALA's Annual Conference and Exhibition.

Setting the Standards

June 26, 2023

“I stood up and said, ‘I’m going to become a librarian,’” James remembered. “The laughter was quite intense.” Despite being told it was “unrealistic,” James went on to receive his master’s degree in information science from University of Texas at Austin in 2007. Since then, he’s worked with several American Library Association (ALA) groups advocating … Continue reading Setting the Standards


Sterling Cunio holds up his cellphone as incarcerated individual David Fleenor shares the impact of a writers' workshop at his correctional facility on June 25. Photo: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries

Fostering Self-Determination

June 25, 2023

At “Nurturing Writers Workshops in Prison,” a June 25 session at the American Library Association’s 2023 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Fleenor shared the impact his writers’ workshop has had on his life as well as what his facility has gained from it: “An enduring writing community.” He was joined by moderator Moira Marquis, … Continue reading Fostering Self-Determination


Seated at left, author and MacArthur Fellow Reginald Dwayne Betts speaks into a microphone. Seated to the right is author and professor Randall Horton. Both are presenters at "Defending the Fifth Freedom: Protecting the Right to Read for Incarcerated Individuals," a June 25 session at the American Library Association's 2022 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. Photo by EPNAC.

‘Our Access Point to the Humanity We Cannot Touch’

June 26, 2022

“The Association’s membership is called on at this moment to interrupt the systemic information poverty that is going on in American’s detention facilities,” she said. As ALA prepares to revise its Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions for the first time since 1992, Hall was joined in conversation by a panel of advocates who are fighting for … Continue reading ‘Our Access Point to the Humanity We Cannot Touch’


Core Top Technology Trends

Libraries and Invasive Technology

January 24, 2021

John Mack Freeman, manager of Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library’s Suwanee branch, opened with a clip that appeared to show former US President Barack Obama voicing support for Black Panther movie villain Erik Killmonger. (The clip was actually a BuzzFeed-produced PSA from director Jordan Peele, who imitated Obama’s speech patterns with cleverly synched video.) It … Continue reading Libraries and Invasive Technology


Photo of ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall. Text says "From the Executive Director by Tracie D. Hall"

Defending the Fifth Freedom

January 4, 2021

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. About 698 per 100,000 of the national population are in some form of detention. According to a March 2020 report from the Prison Policy Initiative, the US criminal justice system detains almost 2.3 million people in various facilities in the US and its territories. Chief … Continue reading Defending the Fifth Freedom


From left: Beth Staley, Katy Ryan, and Gabriella Pishotti of the Appalachian Prison Book Project in Morgantown, West Virginia. Photo: Raymond Thompson

Prisoners Pay to Read

May 22, 2020

Of concern to Ryan and others was the fine print: Tablet users would be charged up to five cents per minute to access most of the tablet content. This included otherwise free public-domain materials, such as books from Project Gutenberg. APBP facilitates prison book clubs, provides tuition for college classes in prison, and sends free books … Continue reading Prisoners Pay to Read



Librarians Go to Juvie

June 27, 2017

In Monday’s session “Librarians Go to Juvie,” Susan Warner, head of youth services at Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL), explained that 85% of juveniles involved with the court system are functionally low-literate, and involvement with the court system dramatically increases the high school dropout rate. In addition, 70% of all incarcerated adults cannot read at a … Continue reading Librarians Go to Juvie


Librarian's Library: Karen Muller

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

May 1, 2017

Creating Inclusive Library Environments: A Planning Guide for Serving Patrons with Disabilities, by Michelle Kowalsky and John Woodruff, begins with an overview of changes initiated because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the follow-up ADA Amendments Act of 2008—changes designed to ensure a barrier-free environment. From there, the book covers policy … Continue reading Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion