Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions on topics that aren’t covered here, feel free to email us at books2prisoners@gmail.com.

How does a prisoner receive books?

Individual prisoners (or their friends and family) write us a letter asking for general types of books.  Our selection is varied but limited, so we cannot fulfill requests for specific book titles.  We then send a package of 1-3 books that match as closely as possible to the requested subjects. We will only send a package to an individual prisoner once every three months.

How long has Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners been active?

Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners has been run by several different individuals and groups since 2003.  Following Hurricane Katrina it was restarted by a local group who still run it today. This incarnation has been around since 2006.

I went to a worknight when I was in Austin/Chicago/Portland/(any city). Is your group related to that group?

No. Most prison book programs in the United States are autonomous and run independently of each other. However, these groups do belong to a network of similarly focused programs, cooperating and communicating in pursuit of their shared goals.  You can find similar groups across the country by viewing the National Prisoner Resource List maintained by the Prison Book Program.

Where does your group send to?

We currently serve only following four states: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  We’ve chosen to restrict our service area to decrease the lag-time between receiving a letter and sending out books.  For a mostly complete list of programs that cover the states we no longer serve please check the National Prisoner Resource List.

What are prison restrictions on books?

Every prison has its own regulations. Some harsher restrictions are: no hardcovers, no used books (this one really frustrates us), and no books unless sent by an “approved vendor” – which frequently means that we cannot send anything to that prison. Whether or not an individual book or package gets through is often at the discretion of the person working in the mail room that day.

We do not send anything depicting pictures of weapons or overtly sexual situations on the cover, damaged hardcover books, or books with “provocative” words in the title (which can increase the likelihood that a package will be rejected).

How can I donate books?

Paperback books can be brought to 2523 George Nick Connor Dr., New Orleans, LA 70119 and placed on the white shelves in the carport. You can also email books2prisoners@gmail.com to schedule a time to drop them off in person or to see if anyone can come pick up a large donation from you.

We also have an Amazon wishlist, so you can select books and have them shipped as a gift:

LAB2P’s Amazon Wishlist

What kind of books do you want?

Please note that we can only accept paperback books at this time. The most common requests are for Black History, College Dictionaries (60,000+ definitions), Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thrillers, Westerns, Horror, Urban Fiction, and True Crime. We have an especially difficult time keeping Westerns, Horror, and Urban Fiction in stock.

There are also quite a few requests for general books on science, computers/technology, job hunting, starting a business, Spanish-English dictionaries, and hobbies and job skills (trucks, dogs, boating, airplanes, mechanics, construction, etc.)

Items that are not commonly requested or that we have enough of are general fiction, romance novels, political biographies, and out-of-date reference books (old almanacs, technical manuals, encyclopedias, etc.)

Please DO NOT bring us hardcover textbooks, as they cost too much to mail and are frequently rejected by prisons.  This is also true of hardcover fiction and children’s books. 

Books with wire spines, CDs, DVDs, or books that are badly damaged all cannot be sent to prisons, so please don’t bring us anything of that nature.

While all donations are appreciated, we do not have the space or time to process these types of contributions. Sorting through these materials can take valuable time away from other tasks.

Can I make a tax-deductible donation?

Yes!  Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners is a 501(c)(3) certified non-profit. We accept Paypal and cash and checks. For more information, please visit our donation page.

How many people run Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners?

The Louisiana Books 2 Prisoners Collective generally has a core membership of 5-8 people, supported by weekly volunteers. We welcome all levels of participation, including anyone interested enough to join our collective.

How many packages do you send out a week?

It depends on how many people show up to wrap packages. Often times it’s only limited to the amount of time available, as we have a sizable backlog of letters.  ~30 packages (ranging anywhere from 90-100 books) a week is our average.

Where does your funding come from?

We host events. We apply for the grants. We solicit individual donations. And in hard times we pay out of pocket when we can. We’re always interested in additional sources for funding, and we welcome any ideas or suggestions on the topic of fund-raising.

What’s the difference between a volunteer and a collective member?

Collective members are responsible for keeping the program going.  They have access to the space and at least one collective member is always staffing a worknight.  They handle the finances and vote on decisions at our monthly meetings.

Volunteers and collective members both wrap packages and conduct all the worknight tasks.  Both are equally important to keep the project going.  People who volunteer with us are welcome to assume as much responsibility as they desire, and we encourage people to be involved as much as possible. We recommend that people be realistic about the level of commitment that they can handle.

We have monthly meetings for anyone interested in becoming more involved. If you’ve been attending our worknights for awhile feel free to ask us about these meetings.

If you are curious about a topic we haven’t covered here, please write books2prisoners@gmail.com with any other questions you may have.