Donation Guidelines

by midwestpagestop...

While donations from the Bloomington Community are absolutely essential to the work done by Pages to Prisoners, restrictions on the type of books that are allowed in jails and prisons (many facilities prohibit hardcover books, used books, and books with certain content), the limited shelf space at our project, and the nature of the type of requests we get from inmates mean that many of the donations we receive cannot be used to send to incarcerated people. Unfortunately, we have to take these unusable books to the recycling center. The process of sorting through books and recycling the unusuable texts can take up a lot of volunteer time and energy. So, you can help our project by weeding out books that we won't be able to use prior to bring us your donation. This would be a great help that we really appreciate.

What We Don't Need

  • Romance Novels
  • Popular Fiction geared only to a female audience (the majority of the people who request books from our project are men)
  • Books about popular culture that are older than 10-15 years old
  • Reader's Digest condensed versions of books
  • "Gift" books
  • Very advanced/specialized textbooks or other academic books
  • Multivolume Encyclopedias
  • Books for young children
  • Travel guidebooks
  • True crime (many facilities prohibit these books)
  • GRE test prep books
  • Legal theory books, property, business law

Note: As many prisons and jails prohibit hardcover books, they are much less useful to our project than paperback ones.

What We Always Need

These are books that are often requested but not often donated.

  • New or like new books
  • Mystery/thriller/suspense/horror/adventure
  • Sci-fi/Fantasy
  • Westerns
  • African-American studies or fiction with African-American characters
  • "Life skills" - personal finance, job skills, etc.
  • Entrepreneurship/Real Estate/Small Business
  • Spanish language books
  • Technical and Vocational Skills (carpentr, auto mechanics, electronics, HVAC, etc.)
  • Basic high school level textbooks for math and science
  • Criminal and civil-rights law books, criminal case law, self-help legal books
  • GED test prep books

In addition, we can always use these materials: clear packing tape, packing tape dispensers, packing paper, pens and blank white paper.

More important, if you are an IU or IVY Tech student, or otherwise have an extra print quota that you do not need, we have several documents that we always--always--need copies of: form letters, the Lucy Parson Prisoner's Resource List, The Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook, We the People: Legal Primer, and Locked Out (a resource list for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer prisoners in the U.S), all of which are attached below. 

Thank you so much for whatever you can provide.

submitted on Fri, 2007-08-24 02:24


During Indiana University's Fall and Spring semesters:
  • Mondays 7-9pm
  • Thursdays 7-10pm
  • Sundays 2-5pm
During Indiana University's Winter Break and Summer semesters:
  • Thursdays 7-9pm
  • Sundays 2-4pm
at 118 S. Rogers Suite #2 Bloomington, IN 47404 Please read our volunteering page for more information.


You can also support us by donating materials, books, and/or money. We are always in need of packing materials and reusable manilla envelopes. Please contact us before donating books. Checks can be made out to "Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project" and sent to or dropped off during normal business hours at Boxcar Books at 408 E. 6th St. Bloomington, IN 47408 You can donate to our project online using PayPal by clicking on the button below.


The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project
c/o Boxcar Books and Community Center, Inc.
118 S. Rogers
Suite 2
Bloomington, IN 47404

1.866.598.1543 (toll-free)

mwpp [at]


The Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project would like to thank BookMooch for their generous support. BookMooch, an online community for exchanging used books, has generously donated points to us so we can request specific books from BookMooch members.

There are many other groups that work towards the same goals as the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project. Read more.

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Zine Distro

Starting this month, Midwest Pages to Prisoners is embarking on a new project aimed at making more available radical literature to prisoners in Indiana. The ‘zine distro’ will catalog over 115 zines on topics ranging from prison issues to queer and trans issues, from radical history to pieces written by prisoners in Indiana. The project is intended to compliment the work already being done by Pages by offering, on a smaller scale, literature more directed to people seeking specifically political material. Click here for more information.