[Bookstoprisoners] other IL BtP invite from us

Sandra Ahten spiritofsandra at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 18 00:02:29 CDT 2005

Hey UC BtP folks. I am proposing we invite the other two Illinois BTP 
programs to come and take advantage of our sale inventory to get caught up 
on their request fulfillment. Read my invite to them below. I have not sent 
this but would like to send it soon. (it has to go by US mail, I have no 
email contacts) Let me know what you think.

Midwest Books to Prisoners
1573 N Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, Illinois


Chicago Books to Women in Prison
c/o Beyondmedia Education
7013 N. Glenwood Ave.
Chicago IL 60622

Greetings from UC Books to Prisoners program, in Urbana-Champaign Illinois. 
We need to talk!

Here’s an offer:
We have a book sale coming up on October 22. We have over 6,000 – probably 
10,000 books ready, all sorted by category. If you are behind in answering 
requests we would love to help you fill them from this inventory.

The ideal situation would be for any of your volunteers to bring down the 
letters you have and set with us at our “outreach” are table where we intend 
to let sale-goers have a letter, go find the books that will match the 
request, and then write a letter to the prisoner and package it up for 

Another, less desirable alternative, (because we want to meet you…and need 
your help) would be for you to send us the letters, and we will go ahead do 
the fulfillment using the above procedure.

We are part of the UC Independent Media Center (UC-IMC) and we are really 
rocking. We are staying caught up with requests, and successfully shipping 
to about 10-16 inmates per week. In addition we just put more than 1000 
books into our local county jail and are coordinating a volunteer librarian 
program to staff this library and keep regular hours six times per month.

I don’t know what you know about us, but we started about 1 ½ years ago when 
Bloomington Indiana, Midwest Pages to Prisoner Project (c/oBoxcar Books) 
gave Adam ____ our founding volunteer, their Illinois requests. We may now 
be listed a few prisoner resource guides, but have otherwise grown through 
prisoner-to-prisoner word of mouth. We had very little inventory and very 
cramped quarters until  Feburary 05, when we were able to move into a 
donated church space. It was still too small, but better. In March ’05, we 
held our first books sale. We got our books from books drives conducted by 
our volunteers and by some honor societies at the University of Illinois. We 
cleared about $1300 which we have used primarily for postage and packing 
supplies. In May, the UC-IMC bought a wonderful building (the historic 
Urbana Post Office) and we moved into an long, narrow, former postal sorting 
room, lined with shelves -- that seems like it was just made for us.

We haven’t had a book drive since the, but through some strategic articles 
in the UC-IMC’s newspaper “The Public i” and placement of a collection bin 
at the local health food stores, Strawberry Fields, and the Common Ground 
food coop, we have been amazed by the community support of donated books. We 
encourage donation of all books. We then sort onto our shelves those books 
that will go toward prisoner request fulfillment. We put everything else 
into our book-sale-inventory. Because we have so very many book donations, 
this is still a great inventory to pull from. If it turns out that we can’t 
fill your requests from this inventory – we are having the book sale right 
next door to our home location, and so we can use that inventory as well.

Well, what do you think? Do you have a backlog of requests and is inventory 
part of the issue;  if so, will we be able to work together to make a bunch 
of  prisoners happy? Potentially, if the sale goes well, we will be able to 
use our funds to ship the request. I don’t know if you have coordinated a 
big shipment before, but if you are shipping several packages to one prison 
at the same time – to individually wrap the packages, but then put them all 
in one big box saves a lot of postage dollars. We could coordinate that for 
this event also.

Please check us out at www.books2prisoners.org and email us right away if 
you are interested in this proposal. Our email is 
bookstoprisoners at lists.chambana.net. Please let us know what kind of backlog 
you have.


Sandra Ahten, on behalf of the folks at
UC Books to Prisoners

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