The Public Square

Carol Corning on the Books to Prisoners book sale, Oct. 2-4, 2009


Hi, I'm Carol Corning and I'd like to tell you about Books to Prisoners, and our book sale, approaching quickly, October 2-4, in the Independent Media Center, behind the Urbana Post Office.

When I first began as a volunteer last winter, I was impressed by the scale of this project, which is a tribute to the work that can be accomplished by a group of dedicated local volunteers. Students, retired people, and others who, like me also work full-time---anyone with a few hours to give--- gather to open letters from Illinois inmates, and find books to match their requests. We track book orders on donated computers, package, and ship the books. As of today, we have sent 38,082 books in 9,904 packages to 5,960 inmates! We also operate libraries at the Champaign County Jails.

People are often surprised to learn that dictionaries are the books most often requested. We purchase many of these, with donations or funds from the sale. Due to budget constraints in prisons throughout Illinois, educational programs and libraries have been seriously hindered. Maximum security prisons do not allow used books to be sent to prisoners from family or friends, and our organization is sometimes the sole source of reading material for prisoners. We think you will agree with us that education through reading is a crucial tool for prisoners returning to our communities from prison or jail.

The Pages for Pennies book sale, where you can get any hardback for $1 and paperbacks for 50cents, provides us with crucial funds needed to cover shipping costs and purchase dictionaries. Please stop by the Downtown Urbana Post Office, 202 S. Broadway, on Friday October 2, from 4-8pm, Saturday, 8am-5pm and Sunday, 10am-2pm. Were online at Thank you.