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Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

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Books To Prisoners 

We are a community-powered volunteer organization with a number of easy ways for you to get involved. No experience is required and whether you have an hour a month or would like to volunteer more often, you are invited to to work with us. 

Our volunteers interact with inmates by reading their letters, selecting books from our collection of donated materials and sending books to inmates in response to their requests. We also staff the two lending libraries located in the Champaign, IL County jails.  If you would prefer to work behind the scenes, we can also utilize your unique skills managing volunteers, coordinating book donations and fund raising, as well as many other education & outreach as well as technical tasks.

Volunteer Sessions

7:00 - 8:30 PM Tuesdays 
2:00 - 3:30 PM Thursdays 
2:00 - 3:30 PM Saturdays

Check Our Our Events Calendar


If you'd like to get involved with our books by mail operation, you can just show up at one of our "pack-a-thons" or contact one of us to discuss our projects and opportunities to donate your skills.

We meet three times per week at the Independent Media Center located at 202 S. Broadway in Urbana Illinois. Our Volunteer entrance is located on the South side of the building and is separate from the buildings main entrance. To find our entrance from the buildings main entrance (large staircase w/ columns) if facing the main entrance, you will need to go around the building to your right and locate the staircase to the basement which has a sign for Books to Prisoners. If the door is locked, ring the doorbell to be let in and follow the posted signs to our room in the basement then introduce yourself as a new volunteer.

Volunteer Groups

We are happy to arrange for community groups to volunteer with Books to Prisoners.  We have work sessions 3 times a week;individual_volunteer_320.jpg Tuesday evenings from 7-9 PM, Thursday afternoon from 2-4 PM and Saturday afternoon from 2-4 PM.  During  work sessions volunteers read letters from inmates and choose books from our collection of donated books to send to inmates, package those books, and help move and sort donated books.  With advanced notice, we are able to accommodate groups of up to five volunteers during any of those work sessions.

If your group includes more than five people, please use our contact form to make arrangements.  Saturday afternoon is the most popular session for groups of volunteers and tends to fill up quickly.  During peak volunteer season, we occasionally add a 12-1:30 PM sessions on Saturdays to accomodate demand.  Unfortunately, our rooms are not accessible by wheelchair and our maximum capacity is about 20 volunteers.

If you have a group that is larger than 10 people, we can use you to help us with book drives and our twice a year book sales.  If your group is interested in helping with a book drive or a book sale, please use our contact form to get in touch we will contact you with more information about these opportunities.

For more info contact the Volunteer Supervisor, Lolita Dumas at [email protected]

Jail Library

UC Books to Prisoners stocks, staffs and operates lending libraries in Champaign County's two jails.

No experience is required to take part in this truly unique volunteer opportunity.


Champaign County requires that participants be at least twenty-one years of age in order to qualify.

UC Books to Prisoners asks that you can commit to working one 2-3 hour shift per month, during which you will be paired with an experienced library volunteer and provided training while you work together in a safe, enjoyable atmosphere.

More info about our jail library.

Jail Library Hours of Operation:

Monday 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Friday 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Please contact Doris Andrechak for more information, (217) 714-4425 or dorisandrechak[at] 

Find Us

Our workshop is located in the basement of the Independent Media Center at 202 S. Broadway Ave in Urbana, IL. Volunteers can park in the garage on the North-West corner of Broadway and Elm.

Our Volunteer entrance is located on the South side of the IMC building. Follow the blue arrows below from Elm Street, around the building to the alley between Lincoln Square Mall and the IMC, or approach from the North entrance to Lincoln Square. During advertised volunteer hours, follow the stairwell to the bike project / books to prisoners. The exterior building door is heavy - if it appears to be locked when you arrive, ring the door bell. If you had made arrangements to volunteer or are unable to get into the building during our normal hours please call Jay at (217) 417-6837.