Author Archive: Prison Books Collective

Back to only accepting specific genres

After a couple months of accepting ALL books, we are now back to ONLY accepting soft cover books and only certain high-demand genres. Please check out our book donation page for more about what we’re looking for.

Wondering what all those books were being collected for? It’s a benefit book sale a group of UNC students (Student Chapter of the American Library Association) has been organizing for many years. Last year they raised $750 for us, the prior year it was $1,500!!! Help make the book sale a success by spreading the word!

Benefit Book Sale: April 3-5, 9 am to 5 pm, Davis Library on the UNC campus (208 Raleigh St, Chapel Hill, NC 27514). On Facebook.

Want some ideas of the sorts of books we’re currently accepting? We have a new Amazon wish list that has some example books that we’d like. It is far from an exhaustive list. And having this list is not an endorsement of the retail, consumer monster that is Amazon, it’s just a convenient place for us to let you know what we’d like! Note: we prefer that you order items to your home and then bring them to a workday. If you’re not located in the area, we have a gift mailing address, but we can only accept items ordered directly through Amazon (not 3rd party sellers, which is where used books usually come from). If you’d like to order used books and need them delivered, email us ( to make arrangements.  Do NOT mail books to our workdays address or our PO Box. We can’t receive packages there. Thanks!

Dec. 25th, Annual Christmas Caroling at Central Prison

Christmas Caroling at Central Prison (2015)

Christmas 2015 outside Central Prison

Monday, December 25th, 10 am Christmas Caroling outside Central Prison in Raleigh. Meet under the railroad trestle off W. Cabarrus St.

Wake up early on Christmas Day and show people in Central Prison that they’re not forgotten! Bring drums or other noise makers if you have them! The more noise we make, the more likely people on the inside will hear us!

This annual event is organized by the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House. Meet at 10 am under the railroad tracks off W. Cabarrus St. The best way to get there is turn onto S. Boylan Ave from Western Blvd, then left on Dorothea Dr, and park just after the street turns to the right. Here’s a link to the meeting spot on a map.

Fundraiser at Ben and Jerry’s Chapel Hill Sept 12

We’re excited to announce that we’re having ANOTHER benefit night at Ben and Jerry’s in Chapel Hill!

What: Benefit Event for Prison Books Collective!! Help us send free books to people locked in NC and AL prisons!
When: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 12-10 pm
Where: Ben and Jerry’s, 102 West Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
How it works: You come in to buy a frozen treat (both dairy and non-dairy available!). We get a portion of the sales! We’ll also have a donation jar. It’s just that easy!
The last one was in April a HUGE success. We raised $444 with your help!

Facebook event:
Bring yourself! Bring your friends! Spread the word!

Ben+Jerrys Event-FBcover-2017-09-12

Welcome Volunteers!!!

We’re excited to announce that we are now accepting new volunteers in our new space!! So please come to a workday!

Map to our space

Map to our workdays space

The address to volunteer is: 4312 Etta Rd, Durham, NC 27705. Don’t send mail here, use our PO Box.

Download a map with directions.

Note: GPS and mapping programs will get you to Etta Road, but our building is set back from the road, through some trees, so you can’t see it from Etta.










We’ve moved into our NEW space!

We are excited to announce that we have a NEW SPACE!! We will remain in Durham, NC. We are very grateful to Human Kindness Foundation for generously donating space to us!!

We are taking one more weekend to get all settled in and organized. We hope to begin welcoming in new volunteers starting Sunday, June 11. Stay tuned to find out the exact address and directions.

Thanks to all of you for your support as we worked on finding a new space. We are looking forward to welcoming you to it soon!

Note: Donations of books are still on hold until we get more settled in. However, we always welcome financial donations!! With our new (larger!) space, we hope to be able to send books to even more people in prison, and we’d appreciate your support to make that happen! To donate:

In solidarity,
Prison Books Collective
Publishing and Distribution

We’re moving at the end of May!!

We will be packing up and then moving for the rest of May (May 21-May 31), so we will NOT be having our regular workdays filling packages, and thus are putting a pause on new volunteers. We’re still finalizing a new space. So stay tuned. Since we’ll be between locations and setting up for the next 3 weeks, please email us to get involved. If you’d like to help with the move, email us at

If all goes as planned, we should be in a new space by the second week of June. Once that’s set, look for a new post with details!!

Thanks for your patience as we work on our move! We look forward to continuing to send books to people in NC and AL prisons and zines nationwide for many years to come.

“While there is a soul in prison I am not free.”

In solidarity,

Prison Books Collective

Support Us!

Thanks for your interest in getting reading materials into the hands of people locked in our nation’s prisons and jails. We send free books and zines (small booklets) to people locked up in North Carolina and Alabama, and zines nationwide!

  • DONATE MONEY: Our biggest need is always money! In order to keep sending books and zines into prisons, we need your help!   Our requests for books have recently jumped, and instead of spending $400 per month on postage, we’ve been spending $650 per month on postage alone!!! And that’s not counting copies, supplies and website (another $100). Your help is so critical!!  Note: We are now a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so all donations are tax deductible. Email us for more information:
  • VOLUNTEER: Workdays are every Sunday, 1-4 pm at 4312 Etta Rd, Durham, NC. See this post for more details about our new location and directions. And check out our volunteering page for general information about volunteering.
  • DONATE BOOKS: At this time, we are ONLY accepting specific high-demand genres. Check out our book donation page for more details and instructions for donating.

Prison Books Collective needs a new home (again!)

We are again looking for a new home, by the end of May!! Please help. From April 2016 to now, we have been renting a room in a business in Durham. We have appreciated our new home and have gained many new volunteers, but we can’t afford the rent!! It is costing us $300/month to rent the space, and we really need that money to send books!  Our current lease ends on May 31, and we’d like to have a new place by late April.

A brief description of our needs: a space to store our books, folding tables and chairs, space for letters and office supplies, and room to have at least one weekly workday with 10-12 volunteers. We need a space that’s open and accessible to volunteers, that has parking and access to a bathroom, along with electricity (ideally heat and AC).

One idea is to share space with a church or non-profit. We’re ideally looking for a free space, but may be able to afford a small amount of monthly rent ($50-$100). We are hoping to stay in the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. We’d also consider further out, if the space was free and met our needs!

If you have contacts with any groups that have space they can share with us, or if you have a space we can use, let us know!! Email us at or post on our facebook page:

What are our basic needs?

  • Shelves for books along one or more walls (our current shelves are about 15 feet across, by 8 feet high)
  • Access to a bathroom (it can be in an adjacent building, as long as it’s open to volunteers)
  • Space for a file cabinet for storing zines, and space to store letters and office supplies
  • Room for 2-3 folding tables and 10-12 folding chairs to be stored
  • Weekly use of the space for a 3 hours session (We’ve always had our workdays on Sunday afternoons, but we can shift if needed.)
  • Parking: about 5-6 cars, plus occasionally more when we have a group
  • Climate-controlled space without humidity problems and with heat. Ideally AC, but we can deal without. (We’ve worked for years out of garage-like spaces but climate control helps protect books and keep volunteers comfortable)
  • Occasional collective meetings in the space
  • The ability to share the address of the space with the public when we advertise our volunteer workdays via our website, fliers and Facebook, etc.

Our wishes:

  • Access to the space for collective members on non-workdays, to drop off supplies, pick up packages to mail, pick up book donations, sort and shelve books, etc.
  • Group nights (we sometimes have larger groups want to volunteer with us, and we’d like the option to host them on a different day than our regular workday)
  • Ability to receive mailed boxes of books (we occasionally get book donations from publishers, and they mail us the books)
  • Occasional book sales (about 2 times/year). This would involve: The week prior, storing boxes of books in the space. The day before, setting up. The day of, taking over the space we use for the workday (or another space, if our new home has a different space in mind)
  • Being able to host fundraisers. We had a comedy show once. Maybe bingo

Please share this post with others in your network, let us know if you have ideas for a space ( And if you’re able, we’d appreciate a donation to offset costs of the move (and our weekly postage expenses to mail books!).

Fundraiser at Nightlight Bar & Club

We’re excited to announce that we’re partnering with Nightlight in Chapel Hill for a benefit show on Friday, Feb. 17 at 8 pm!Nightlight-Flier-Feb17-edit

What: Benefit Event for Prison Books Collective!! Help us send free books to people locked in NC and AL prisons!
When: Friday, February 17, 2017, 8-11 pm
Where: Nightlight, 405 W. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC
Cost: $10 ($8 for students, seniors and low-income)
Performers: Nicki Rivers + band, Reflex Arc + friends: extended set, UNC Wordsmiths
RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends!

More details:

Nicki Rivers + band
Nicki studied vocal performance at the New School of Jazz, New York, NY. She has performed in various venues from Japan to Paris, and has studied with Jazz masters from Shelia Jordan, to DeeDee Bridgewater, Drum Maestro Chico Hamilton, bassist Harley White, and mentored by pianist Jim Bell.

Reflex Arc + friends: extended set
A two piece experimental and improvisational band. Crowmeat Bob plays a variety of horns + sometimes electric guitar while Ginger Wagg plays a variety of body parts, spaces, and emotional states.

UNC Wordsmiths
Spoken Word Poetry

Can’t make it to the event? You can still support us!

2016: Crisis & Opportunities by Russell Maroon Shoatz

Long-time political prisoner, Russell Maroon Shoatz, recently wrote this analysis of this past year in politics. It starts with an analysis of the global stage, and then focuses on the U.S. It then ends with a call to action.

Read the full article.

Globally, 2016 has been dominated by political, economic, and social changes in the Northern Hemisphere. Massive upheavals have been occurring, seemingly churned up by the millions of asylum seekers fleeing wars and economic- and climate-related depredations in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

The upshot of these upheavals brought proto-fascists to challenge the welfare states of Western Europe and the guinea pig economic systems of the former Soviet states. The Left there has either been crushed (Greece), is now on the ropes (Spain and England’s Left Laborites), or is circling the wagons (Germany and the Scandinavian countries), while Russia under Putin is using its military muscle to try to replicate what China has been doing in the economic sphere: remain independent of the U.S. and Western economic domination.

Read the full article. And learn more about Russell Maroon Shoatz.