Recent Juvenile Detention Resources

At one point, there was a proliferation of activity undertaken by librarians working with incarcerated youth, some of which is represented in the Library Services for Youth in Custody website in the Internet Archive, and the continuing In the Margins book award.

While engagement with this area of library service seems to have diminished, there are still great–and recent–materials available to support librarians beginning these services.

Two recent publications I’ve come across are Jess Snow’s Outreach Services for Teens: A Starter Guide (ALA, 2020), which contains example related to beginning and continuing library services in a juvenile detention and Kristin Zeluff’s chapter titled “Collection development policies in juvenile detention center libraries” in Dawkins’ Intellectual Freedom Issues in School Libraries (ABC-CLIO, 2021).

It’s exciting to see that librarians are still thinking deeply about these services!

Banned Books Week

From PEN America: “Over the course of the past year, PEN America’s Right to Read in American Prisons Project focused on ways prisons and jails across the country restricted access to literature and educational materials through book censorship and state book ban lists. During PEN America’s recognition of Banned Books Week, we are excited to share several essays written by incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and allied people on the crucial role of books in their lives.”

The series is available at

Early History of Jail/Prison Library Services

For librarians following the prison strike of 2018 (and for those who are not yet doing this), R.J. Rubin’s U.S. prison library services and their theoretical bases is essential reading for background perspective on how librarians have historically thought through library services in jails and prisons.  Published in 1973, it is a signpost into how library services came to exist in jail in prisons, librarians’ belief in their own theoretical and professional expertise, and how short a time there have been librarian-led services in jails and prisons in the United States. You can access the full text at

Rubin, R. J. (1973). U.S. prison library services and their theoretical bases. Occasional Papers, No. 110.