Prison Libraries Committee
The Prison Libraries Committee (PLC) of the Manitoba Library Association (MLA) is a volunteer group that provides collections, programming and library awareness for incarcerated and reintegrating men and women in the justice system.
Formed in 2012, the PLC’s volunteers provide service to the Winnipeg Remand Centre (WRC) in Winnipeg and Women’s Correctional Centre (WCC) in Headingly, Manitoba. Programs are also provided in other sites as part of reintegration and partnered initiatives. Activities of the PLC are continually evolving as we learn, grow and connect within justice and reintegration services in the greater Winnipeg area.
We believe that prison libraries and literacy play an important role in reintegration planning. Thoughtful and timely programs and access to information can reduce recidivism and contribute to safety and success in the community. A prison library that provides meaningful and relevant materials for the inmates will only help as those same men and women re-enter the community at a later date.
- Offer a weekly “open library” for inmates on Saturday evenings at the WRC, and biweekly “bin refresh” of materials to the units, using collections we develop and maintain.
- Offer biweekly "book talk and book exchange" program on Saturday afternoons for women at the WCC.
- Help develop and organize the library at the WCC.
- Offer author talks and writing workshops at the WRC and WCC.
- Create library awareness for inmates to inform on the resources and tools of the library for when they are released.
- Promote positive engagement with libraries and reading for lifelong learning.
- Work together as volunteers with partner sites and organizations in mutual goal of providing inmates and reintegrating men and women with reading materials and information.
- Respect the inmates and workers of the justice system and support their efforts of personal development, education, leisure and growth through positive library opportunities.
Would you like to volunteer?
We welcome new volunteers; here is everything you need to know about volunteering with the MLA-PLC:
- The MLA-PLC is a committee under the auspices of the Manitoba Library Association. In all volunteer work for the committee, you are also representing the Manitoba Library Association. Membership in the Manitoba Library Association is encouraged.
- There are many roles that volunteers can choose from, including: staffing an open library for inmates at the WRC; helping to develop and prepare books for program sites; leading programs such as book clubs; supporting the committee with administrative work.
- Volunteers take on only as much as they can consistently commit to. Please don’t promise something that you aren’t sure that you can deliver. Trust and reputation with inmates and institutions/organizations is built on delivering what we’ve promised.
- All volunteers are added to a group email list and Dropbox folder for updates and information sharing. This helps to keep us all in touch with program and meeting dates, new initiatives and general discussions, and shifts to be filled. All volunteers should regularly check Dropbox and their email for updates on events, updates, articles, and other useful information about the group and our work.
- All volunteers follow MLA-PLC guidelines and are willing to learn and engage with the committee.
- Signing up as needed for programs and other duties
- Committing to shifts by arriving on time and prepared
- Sharing your experiences and your learning with the other volunteers to help us all grow
Potential new members should:
- Get clearance and sign up for a volunteer orientation if working in a correctional facility. Clearances and orientations are required for working in either WRC or the WCC. If you are not choosing to work in a correctional facility, this is not needed.
- Read up and familiarize themselves with the resources on Dropbox and signing up for shifts. Bring your ideas and enthusiasm to the scheduled meetings too!
- Become a member of the Manitoba Library Association.
Interested in donating?
Read more about our committee:
- Books Behind and Beyond Bars - an article written for Feliciter magazine (Vol. 59, No.2 April 2013)
- Books Behind Bars: a volunteer-run prison library service in Winnipeg, Manitoba - from In the Library with a Lead Pipe (March 26, 2014)
To sign up or for more information, please contact Kirsten Wurmann, chair of the PLC.