What We Do with Donated Books We Can’t Use

From time to time we find ourselves running out of room, especially after a few large donations. That’s when we sort through the duplicates and items not likely to be of interest to the readers we serve, and we reach out to prison libraries.

Recently, our volunteer Scott Feigenhauer coordinated the preparation and delivery of a large donation of books to the Cook County Department of Corrections. Director Theresa Olson of Inmate Services wrote Scott:

On behalf of Sheriff Tom Dart and the Inmate Services Department at the Cook County Department of Corrections, please accept this sincere ‘Thank You’ to you and to all the amazing people in your circles for uniting together to donate 36 boxes of books to fill our jail libraries.

All of the donated books will directly benefit over 12,600 inmates at the Cook County Department of Corrections. The Sheriff’s Office is adding recreational libraries for a total of 11 individual libraries inside each division of the Department of Corrections. The inmates will be allowed to check out books for reading while they are housed in their cells. The inmates will now have the fortunate opportunity to enjoy books of an educational, recreational and instructional nature.

The new jail libraries opened on Monday, September 9, and we are proud to have helped this happen.


891 packages so far in 2021

Packages carrying books of all kinds and composition books to women and trans people locked up across the country! (In 2020—with our capacity drastically cut due to COVID-19 precautions—we sent 1,964 packages. In 2019, we sent 5,117 packages; in 2018, 4,852.) Big, big thanks to all our supporters because we couldn’t do it without you, especially in this most difficult time. (updated June 14, 2021)

Donate money quickly and easily

Or send your check or money order to 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your gift may be tax-deductible.

Shop our wish list today

Buy books we need online and we pick them up—no shipping fee, no wasteful packaging. (Or buy a gift card if you can’t decide!) Your purchase benefits not just the people we serve, but one of Chicago’s best indy bookstores.

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