I had heard of "BOOKS THROUGH BARS" at the A-SPACE Anarchist Community Center through the WOODEN SHOE BOOK AND RECORD STORE(which I wrote about for Lesbiatopia in "Spotlight on Book Stores") but I never gave much thought to it. I think like alot of people, when pondering which types of organizations or charities to give my time, energy and/or money to, prisoners were never exactly at the top of my list.
Back in February towards the end of the month, I made a trip to the A-Space to set up an art show and when I was done with my meeting, I came across a group setting up for something called "Books Through Bars". I thought to myself, "Hmmm, this was meant to be, I was supposed to be here this very moment." I could have left after my meeting, but I surprised myself when I felt the urge to stay and help out. I was interested in learning more about this whole program. Since then I've also done some research about it.
Basically, the way it works is like this:
People donate books to the program, which is almost pretty much nationwide with different cities from all over doing their own version of BTB. There are official "drop-off" places where folks drop their books off. There are certain guidelines on book donating that can be found on their website.
The books are taken to places designated as "packing cafes". A-Space is one of them. Prisoners from all over write letters to BTB and request the types of books they would like. For example, they can ask for one about hobbies, or vocational skills, novels, etc.