Publications on Jail and Prison Libraries, 1992-2019

I have been conducting a literature review of publication on American jail and prison libraries as a follow-up to the timeline of library services to incarcerated people.  The list below, while potentially not comprehensive, includes publications on this topic from 1992 through the present.

About the list: I prioritized peer-reviewed articles while assembling this list, but did include a few instances of more popular texts.  Two special issues on this topic appeared in the time frame examined (a special issue of Education Librarian in 2000 and a special issue of Library Trends on Library and Information Services to Incarcerated Persons: Global Perspectives in 2011).  The list also includes books, briefs, and chapters, all marked with an *.  All items are listed in chronological order.  (Please note: this list does not contain publications on library services in juvenile detention centers or publications that are primarily personal accounts written by librarians in jails and prisons.  Articles published in popular journals published through ALA were prioritized in the creation of this list.  These restrictions not only reflect the discourse of library and information science education and theory, they also helped to scope the review project — necessary since there are over 100 mentions of or articles about carceral facilities during this period in Library Journal alone.)

Please feel free to contact me if you notice there is something I’ve missed!

Suvak, D. (1993).  Evaluating LSCA: The evidence from prison libraries, Public Libraries, 32(2),  86-90.

Mongelli, W. (1994). De-mystifying legal research for prisoners.  Law Library Journal, 86, 277-298.

Westwood, K. (1994).  Prison law librarianship: A lesson in service for all librarians.  American Libraries, 25(2), 152-154.

*Rubin, R, J. & Suvak, D. (1995).  Libraries inside: A practical guide for prison librarians. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.

Stevens, T. & Usherwood, B. (1995).  The development of the prison library and its role within the models of rehabilitation.  The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 34(1), 45-63

*Vogel, B. (1995).  Down for the count: A prison library handbook.  Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press.

Vogel, B. (1995). Meeting court mandates: The CD-ROM solution.  Corrections Today, 57(7), 158, 160.

Vogel, B. (1995).  Ready or not, computers are here.  Corrections Today, 57(6), 160, 162.

Bratt, L. (1996). Birthplace of my redemption.  American Libraries, 27(6), 65-66.

Chepesuik, R. (1996). Unlocking doors through literacy.  American Libraries, 27(10), 46-48.

Schneider, J.  (1996).  Prison libraries change lives.  American Libraries, 27(10), 46-48.

Vogel, B. (1996). The prison law library: From print to CD-ROM. Corrections Today, 58(3), 100.

Vogel, B.  (1997).  Bailing out prison libraries: The politics of crime and punishment frame the crisis in prison library service.  Library Journal, 122(19), 35-37.

Sullivan, L. E. (1998).  Reading in American prisons: Structures and strictures.  Libraries & Culture, 33(1), 113-119.

Westwood, K. (1998). “Meaningful access to the courts” and law libraries: Where are we now?  Law Library Journal, 90(2), 193-195.

Wilhelmus, D. W. (1999).  A new emphasis for correctional facilities’ libraries.  Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(2), 114-120.

Bouchard, J. & Winnicki, A. (2000). “You found what in a book?” Contraband control in the prison library. Library & Archival Security, 16(1), 47–61.

Franklin, P. (2000).  “Read to succeed”: An inmate to inmate literacy program in Washington state.  Journal of Correctional Education, 51(3), 286-292.

Knudsen, M. (2000).  How my library affects my life in prison.  Education Libraries, 24(1), 20. (Special issue)

Lehmann, V. (2000).  Prison librarians needed: A challenging career for those with the right professional and human skills.  IFLA Journal, 26(2), 123-128.

London, D.  (2000).  Conduit for restoration: The prison library.  Education Libraries, 24(1), 21. (Special issue.)

Median, L., Purifoy, R., Knudson, M., & London, D. (2000). The prison library as viewed by four inmates. Education Libraries24(1), 17–22. (Special issue.)

Purifoy, R.  (2000).  You are here: A guided tour of the Oshkosh Correctional Institution prison library.  Education Libraries, 24(1), 18. (Special issue.)

Singer, G. (2000).  Prison libraries inside out. Education Libraries24(1), 11–16. (Special issue.)

Sullivan, L. (2000).  The least of our brethren: Library service to prisoners.  American Libraries, 31(5), 56- 58.

Dixen, R. & Thorson, S.  (2001).  How librarians serve people in prison.  Computers in Libraries, 21(9), 48-53.

Bowden, T. (2002). A snapshot of state prison libraries with a focus on technology. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian21(2), 1–12.

Lehmann, V.  (2002).  The prison library: A vital link to education, rehabilitation, and recreation.  Education Libraries, 24(1), 5-10.

Bouchard, J. & Kunze, L.  (2003).  Teaching diverse students in a corrections setting with assistance from the library.  Journal of Correctional Education, 54(2), 66-69.

Geary, M. (2003). Trends in prison library service, Bookmobiles and Outreach Services, 6, 79-91.

Gerken, J. L. (2003). Does Lewis v. Casey Spell the End to Court-ordered Improvement of Prison Law Libraries? Law Library Journal, 95(4), 491–513.

Shirley, G. L.  (2003).  Correctional libraries, library standards, and diversity.  Journal of Correctional Education, 54(2), 70-74.

Lehmann, V.  (2003).  Planning and implementing prison libraries: strategies and resources.  IFLA Journal, 29(4), 301-307.

*Sullivan, L. E. & Vogel, B.  (2003).  Reachin’ behind bars: Library outreach to prisoners 1798-2000. In R.S. Freeman & D. M. Hovde (Eds.), Libraries to the people: Histories of outreach (113-127).  Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Sweeney, M. (2003).  Living to read true crime: Theorizations from prison.  Discourse, 25(1&2), 55-80.

Darby, L. (2004).  Libraries in the American penal system.  Rural Libraries, 24, 7-20.

Stearns, R. (2004). The prison library: An issue for corrections, or a correct solution for its issues? Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian23(1), 49–80.

de la Peña McCook, K.  (2004).  Public libraries and people in jails.  Reference & User Services Quarterly, 44(1), 26-30.

Campbell, D. K (2005). The context of information behavior of prison inmates.  Progressive Librarian. 25, 1-12

Mark, A. E. (2005). Libraries without walls: An internship at Oshkosh Correctional Institution Library, Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 23:2, 97-111.

Asher, C.  (2006).  Interlibrary loan outreach to a prison: Access inside.  Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 16(3), 27-33.

*Clark, S. and MacCreigh, E. (2006).  Library services to the incarcerated: Applying the public library model in correctional facilities.  Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.

Preddie, M. (2006). The Lone Ranger part I: Charting new grounds in prison hospital librarianship. Journal of Hospital Librarianship6(1), 87–93.

Seamone, E. (2006). Fahrenheit 451 on Cell Block D: A Bar Examination to Safeguard America’s Jailhouse Lawyers from the Post-Lewis Blaze Consuming Their Law Libraries. Yale Law & Policy Review, 24(1), 91-147.

Shirley, G.  (2006).  Library services to disadvantaged user groups.  Library services to adult prisons in the United States.  LIBREAS.  Library Ideas, 6.  Retrieved from

Tubbs, C. (2006). Electronic research in state prisons. Legal Reference Services Quarterly25(1), 13–38.

Dowling, B. (2007). Public Libraries and the Ex-Offender. Public Libraries, 46(6), 44–48.

Greenway, S. A. (2007).  Library services behind bars.  Bookmobiles and Outreach Services, 10(2), 43-64.

Payne, W. & Sabath, M. J. (2007).  Trends in the use of information management technology in prison libraries.  Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 26(2), 1-10.

Preddie, M. (2007). The Lone Ranger part II: Meeting the challenges of prison hospital librarianship: Charging forward with a strategic plan. Journal of Hospital Librarianship6(4), 75–83.

Sullivan, Larry E. (2008). “Prison is dull today”: Prison libraries and the irony of pious reading.” PMLA, 123(3), 703-706.

Sweeney, M. (2008).  Reading and reckoning in a women’s prison.  Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 50(3), 304-328.

*Vogel, B. (2009).  The prison library primer.  Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

Shepard Smith, E. (2010). May it please the court: Law students and legal research instruction in prison law libraries. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 29(4), 276–317.

Lehmann, V.  (2011).  Challenges and accomplishments in U.S. prison libraries.  Library Trends, 59(3), 490-508.  (Special issue – Library and Information Services to Incarcerated Persons: Global Perspectives.)

Lehmann, V.  (2011).  Introduction.  Library Trends, 59(3), 490-508. (Special issue – Library and Information Services to Incarcerated Persons: Global Perspectives.)

Conrad, S.  (2012).  Collection development and circulation policies in prison libraries: An exploratory survey of librarians in US correctional institutions.  The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 82(4), 407-427.

Abel, J. (2013).  Ineffective assistance of library: The failings and the future of prison law libraries.  Georgetown Law Journal, 101(5), 1171-1215.

Morris, J. (2013). Free to learn: Helping ex-offenders with reentry.  Public Library Quarterly, 32(2), 119-123.

Sorgert, R.  (2014).  Forgotten and elusive partners: Academic libraries and higher education in prison.  Saint Louis University Public Law Review, 33, 429–519.

Drabinski, E., and Rabina, D. (2015). Reference services to incarcerated people, part I: themes emerging from answering reference questions from prisons and jails. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 55(1), 42–48.

Rabina, D., and Drabinski, E. (2015). Reference services to incarcerated people, part II: Sources and learning outcomes. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 55(2), 123–131.

Couvillon, E., & Justice, A. (2016). Letters from the big house: Providing consumer health reference for Texas prisons. Journal of Hospital Librarianship16(4), 281–286.

Kelmor, K. (2016). Inmate legal information requests analysis: Empirical data to inform library purchases in correctional institutions. Legal Reference Services Quarterly35(2), 135–146.

Rabina, D., Drabinski, E., & Paradise, L. (2016). Information needs in prisons and jails: A discourse analytic approach. Libri: International Journal of Libraries & Information Services, 66(4), 291-302.

*Shirley, G. (2016).  In a place of monotony and despair: A library! In D. L. Barlow & P. T. Jaeger (Eds.), Celebrating the James Partridge Award: Essays toward the development of a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable field of Library and Information Science (Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 42, pp. 77-88). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Wright, B. N. (2016). The prison law library: A Fourteenth Amendment necessity. Advances in Librarianship, 41, 209–228.

*Conrad, S. (2017).  Prison librarianship: Policy and practice.  Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Dunaway, S. E. (2017). ¿Dónde está la biblioteca? It’s a damn shame: Outdated, inadequate, and nonexistent law libraries in immigrant detention facilities. Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 36(1), 1–33.

Gladstone, J. (2017). Prison law libraries: From US’s Bounds to Canada’s Biever.  Canadian Law Library Review, 42(3), 15-20.

*Higgins, N.  (2017).  Get inside: Responsible jail and prison library service.  Chicago, IL: Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association.

*Rayme, M. (2017).  Prison libraries: On the fringe of the library world.  In Y. S. Cura & M. Macias (Eds.), Librarians with spines: Information agitators in the age of stagnation (99-110)Los Angeles, CA: HINCHAS Press.

*Styslinger, M. E., Givigan, K, & Albright, K. (Eds.) (2017). Literacy behind bars: Successful reading and writing strategies for use with incarcerated you and adults.  Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Finlay, J., and Bates, J. (2018). What is the role of the prison library? The development of a theoretical foundation. Journal of Prison Education and Reentry5(2), 120-139.

*Jacobson, E. (2018).  Reference by mail to incarcerated people.  In K. Adler, I. Beilin, & E. Tewell (Eds.) Reference librarianship & justice: History, practice & praxis (151-159). Sacramento, CA: Library Juice Press.

Austin, J. and Villa-Nicholas, M. (2019). Information provision and the carceral state: Race and reference beyond the idea of the “underserved.” The Reference Librarian. 60(4), 233-261.


originally posted 2/9/2020, most recently updated 3/21/2021