Inmates in Illinois prisons are being offered free donated and recycled books by Books to Prisoners, a volunteer organization based in Urbana. This group accepts requests from prisoners and ships directly to the 27 prisons in the state. To date, they have shipped over 57,000 books to more than 9,000 prisoners. They also operate lending libraries in Urbana’s two local jails. They accept book donations as well as funding to underwrite shipping costs, which amount to thousands of dollars annually. Visit their site at

They are also partners in the 3Rs (Reading Reduces Recidivism) Project, which is a statewide volunteer effort to rebuild and restore the Illinois prison system’s library resources, which have deteriorated significantly in recent years due to budget constraints. The 3Rs Project also utilizes donated books as well as periodical reading materials, and has active chapters in Carbondale, Charleston/Effingham, Oak Park/River Forest, Springfield, and Urbana. Their website is