COVID-19 Update: We are suspending guest volunteer visits for the time being. Please check our Facebook page for updates. Thanks, and be safe!

What We Do

We provide literature and resources to incarcerated people, free of charge, to support them as they navigate the violent and alienating American carceral system. The materials we send encourage knowledge-gathering and community-building across walls designed to keep people apart. We remember those kept out of sight and extend humanity to the dehumanized.

Our recipients are people in jails and prisons in North Carolina and Alabama. While we focus mainly on male prisoners, the NC Women’s Prison Book Project serves women incarcerated in NC.

In addition to sending books, we have an extensive catalog of zines that we mail across the country, which range from political to educational, artistic to self-help. We also publish Words of Fire, a semi-regular collection of art, short stories, essays, and poetry by incarcerated people.

If you know someone in prison who would be interested in receiving free books or resources, please share our flyer with them and ask them to send us a letter at PO Box 625, Carrboro, NC 27510.

Download our flyer (PDF)
Image of a crowded bookshelf.
One of the many shelves in the volunteer space. We're constantly reorganizing our stock to make room for more!

Weekly Workdays

We meet every Sunday at our shared space in Durham to fulfill requests and to package books to send. If you are interested in volunteering with us, please get in touch!

Our process is straightforward. Incarcerated individuals across North Carolina and Alabama mail requests for all types of literature, from self-help to fiction to political zines; we receive about 50 requests each week. Volunteers look through our stock of donated books and send one or two that best match the request. We send invoices that document package contents so that recipients can verify that they received the books sent. Volunteers often write short notes of encouragement as well.

After our workdays, we take bins of packages to the post office for mailing. We mail hundreds of books each month. Postage is our single largest expense, funded entirely by supporter donations.

Please note that we are suspending group volunteer visits until North Carolina further relaxes its quarantine restrictions. A core group of PBC volunteers, however, is continuing to meet each week to fulfill book requests, and we continue to receive hundreds of requests each month.

Make a donation How to give books
A volunteer with a mask standing in front of a bookshelf
We help new volunteers learn how to respond to requests and package books.

Contact Us

The best way to get in touch with us is through email. To send us mail, donations, or supplies, please address packages to PO Box 625, Carrboro, NC 27510. Our support page has more information about how you can help.

If you are interested in volunteering, please send us an email and we will follow up to schedule a time and provide directions to the work space.

We also do our best to keep our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts active. Follow us to see more about our work, recipients, and jubilant book donation announcements.

A close-up image of the book Solitary
We get especially excited when publishers send us books about prison written by formerly-incarcerated individuals.

What We Stand For

We are a group of people who believe the prison system in the United States is fundamentally unjust and perpetuates systems of economic, racial, gender, psychological, and social oppression. Our members share different motivations for the work we do — some of us are abolitionists, some of us seek prison reform, and some of us are merely concerned community members — but we are united in the belief that incarcerated people deserve support and resources and that the many injustices of prison must be resisted.

We work to build systems of care for those who have been subjected to “organized abandonment,” as abolitionist scholar Ruth Wilson Gilmore terms it, and the violence of the criminal justice system in America today.

Image of barbed wire above a metal wall
While each of us may hold different views about solutions to social injustices, we are all agreed about the need to reform the carceral system.

Nonprofit Registration

We are a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit publisher and distributor, and maintain our book distribution and publication standing with prisons in states we serve.