BTB’s core program is distributing books and educational materials to individual prisoners in the Mid-Atlantic region, prison libraries across the country, and halfway houses throughout the greater Philadelphia area.
Individual Book Packages
We provide small packages of books to individual prisoners in the Mid-Atlantic region: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The books are free, and we send them to anyone who asks, providing they are in the region we serve and the prison accepts books.
Would you like us to send books to your friend or family member in prison? Please view the guidelines below to request books for your incarcerated loved one.
Prison libraries, education programs and halfway houses
We welcome requests for larger boxes of books from libraries or prison education programs in any state (although we prioritize requests from our region). We will also deliver donations of books directly to prisons, jails and halfway houses in the Greater Philadelphia area. We are particularly interested in supporting libraries in the Mid-Atlantic region. Wherever possible, we try to assemble donations in accordance with a particular facility’s needs, and work to ensure that our donations complement, as well as supplement, educational programming. Please view the guidelines below to request books.
Either you or the incarcerated individual can send us a letter, through the regular mail, that includes name, prisoner ID number, full address, any restrictions on incoming books, and types of books wanted. WE ONLY ACCEPT BOOK REQUESTS BY POSTAL MAIL.
Our mailing address is Books Through Bars, 4722 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143.
Please follow these guidelines when requesting books:
- We only send books to individual prisoners in PA, NJ, NY, DE, MD, VA, and WV.
- Please request by topic (not exact title or author), and provide several areas of interest if possible. For example, African-American history, basic math, carpentry, how to draw.
- Please be patient. We get so many requests that it may take a while to receive the books.
- Please wait two months after receiving books before requesting again.
Feel free to contact us with any additional questions.
Please contact us by letter (attn: Library Program) or email with following information:
- Your position (i.e. librarian, chaplain, educator)
- Number of prisoners you serve
- Primary needs (i.e. books in a particular content area for a program, books to start a library, books to supplement current offerings, etc.)
- If the prison is not located in the greater Philadelphia area, ability to assist for postage costs (a box of books generally costs us between $15-20 to send. Any assistance you can provide toward that cost is greatly appreciated).
- If the prison is located in the greater Philadelphia area, can you arrange for the books to be picked up at our office or do you need them to be delivered? Who should we contact to arrange for delivery if needed?
We often have textbooks (variety of subjects, junior high through introductory college levels) in quantities of 15-40 that we can provide as a set to your education program. Please let us know if you’re interested in a list of the sets we currently have available.