News & Events

Recent news

  • October 2013: Books Through Bars received a $1,000 donation from the prisoners at State Correctional Institution Forest (Marienville, PA)!
  • From May 25–June 3rd, BTB participated in Decarcerate PA’s March from Philly to Harrisburg to protest prison expansion in PA. Volunteers attended rallies, participated in the march, and provided food and transportation.
  • In September 2013, BTB began work with with AORTA, a facilitation collective, to explore volunteer recruitment, increasing diversity, and leadership development

BTB Newsletters

2015: Download (pdf)

  • Books Through Bars Turns 25: 2015 marks BTB’s 25th year of sending free books to incarcerated people. John Rowland, a volunteer with Books Through Bars and Address This! project, took our quarter-century anniversary as an opportunity to look at our work in a historical context – how did we arrive here, and what hope can we have for a future without mass incarceration?
  • BTB Behind the Scenes: Throughout its 25-year history, the work of Books Through Bars has been managed by an all-volunteer collective. Alyssa Songsiridej interviewed BTB Collective members Brielle Talarico and Keir Neuringer to hear their take on the collective ant BTB’s important work.
  • Address This! Seeks Support to Honor Students’ Efforts: In December 2015, Address This! will complete its fourth consecutive year of offering social justice-focused correspondence courses to individuals incarcerated throughout the state of Pennsylvania. There is one new initiative that Address This! wants to introduce within the next several months for which we are actively seeking your support. We’re hoping to purchase celebratory end-of-semester book copies, specifically tailored to each class, to provide to each participant who successfully completes a course. See the newsletter for the books we hope to purchase and for info about how you can contribute!
  • Two Days, a Thousand Book Packages: Books Through Bars hosted two massive packathon events in 2015. During each one, volunteers assembled 500 packages – roughly the equivalent of what we usually send out each month.
  • Dynamic Coalition Launches Campaign Against Death by Incarceration: On June 6, 2015, after months of meeting and organizing, the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI) officially launched its campaign at an event attended by over 300 people.

Fall 2013: Download (pdf)

  • Fund the schoolhouse, not the jailhouse: Writing as a “voice from the inside,” Sergio Hyland provides a guest editorial on the links between Pennsylvania’s massive state budget cuts to schools and the massive funding being provided to construct two new prisons.
  • Address This! adds new course on Youth Empowerment: The new course, designed by David Lee and Saleem Holbrook, will educate imprisoned youth on understanding their responsibilities to themselves, their families and their communities, as well as lift them out of self-destructive lifestyles.
  • An interview with Dexter Rose and Jenna Peters-Golden of Philly Stands Up: Philly Stands Up is a collective dedicated to confronting sexual assault and intimate partner abuse within queer and radical communities. In 2011 they created a six-unit Address This! course called “Putting the ‘Us’ Back in Justice: Alternatives to Police, Courts and Prisons.”
  • New Volunteer Forum begins November 20, 2013: The new forum will happen every other month, and will be a time for volunteers to meet one another, discuss successes and challenges, learn about prison issues in PA and find out about new BTB projects they can get involved in.
  • Spotlight on volunteers: Our volunteers have many interesting and thoughtful reasons for choosing to work with BTB!

Fall 2012: Download (pdf)

  • BTB’s new program, Address This!, successfully launches first pilot semester of courses: In December of 2011, Books Through Bars launched a new pilot project called Address This! which offers innovative radical/educational reading courses via correspondence to individuals incarcerated throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Special Update on Prison Issues in Pennsylvania:  Mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders abolished, but the fight continues; Communities rally against prison expansion; Bill SB100 takes steps towards prison reform in PA but there’s still work to be done.
  • Donor and Volunteer Spotlight: Barbara Gurley, a former Library Assistant at the Free Library of Philadelphia, has become integral to BTB since she first started volunteering in 2009.
  • Update: BTB’s Philadelphia Prison Library Project. PPLP is a working group within BTB established to fill the need of Philadelphia prison libraries. Most recently, at the behest of a reading-friendly warden, we donated four boxes of books to the Detention Center, one of six area facilities within the Philadelphia Prison System.