Elementary education major Kyla Thompson contributes a book to the drive.
WSU sociology students are holding a book drive to establish a library for minimum security prisoners.
Jennifer Schwartz, assistant professor of sociology, said the idea hatched when she realized federal law allows students to make copies of scholarly publications, but distant education students in prison don’t have access to the Internet. Schwartz said prisoners often don’t have access to educational materials unless they have family members or friends who can provide them.
She suggested to students enrolled in her Sociology 491, Gender, Race, and Crime, that instead of buying text books for class, they all buy books for prisoners.
“They decided to take it to the next level and hold a campus- and town-wide book drive,” Schwartz said. Along with the the Sociology/AKD Club, the class is collecting books to create a library for the state penitentiary at Walla Walla and to update the library at the Airway Heights facility near Spokane.
She said students believe that providing books to prisoners will help improve their literacy skills and they may be less likely to reoffend. Rehabilitation is one of the key aims of our penal system, Schwartz said, but funding for literacy and other types of rehabilitative programs has been cut dramatically in recent years.
Several departments on campus have donated books, as has Pullman’s Neill Public Library. A graduate student at WSU Spokane has contacted Schwarts about extending the book drive to all WSU campuses.
Donations of new or gently used books, on any topics, are welcome. But prison staff have indicated that the most wanted books include:
Dictionaries (English, Spanish, Vietnamese and current legal dictionaries)
Reference books (thesaurus, encyclopedia)
History and (auto)biographies (especially African-American, Native American, Central American)
Hobbies (leather, wood, needlecraft, beading, watercolor, drawing)
Job search/preparation (resume writing, public speaking, job search, interviewing, career selection, standardized test prep, GED)
Literature (poetry, classics, westerns, science fiction, action/adventure)
Entertainment (trivia, anime)
Living (renter’s rights, homebuilding, farming, car repair)
To allay potential concerns, students will black out any identifying information (e.g., name, address) of the books’ previous owners. The book drive will run through the end of the semester.
Book drop box locations are:
Sociology office (204 Wilson-Short Hall)
Holland Terrell Library (breezeway)
Daily Grind (downtown)
Neill Public Library (March 3-30 only)
WSU Spokane College of Education (in process of adding boxes)
Form more information, see http://cooley.libarts.wsu.edu/books/