Books to Women in Prison: The Chicago Area Stands Up

May 8, 2019

How is a library unlike a bookstore? Well, for one thing, we’re free. Sort of an unfair advantage there. For another thing, unlike in a bookstore, our stock keeps coming back. No sooner have I gotten one book off of a shelf than another one’s arrived for reshelving. It can be exhausting, not to mention a bit difficult when there are more books than shelves. Recently I heard a figure that said that Evanston Public Library has the sixth largest collection of books in the state of Illinois. Sixth largest! But even then, we can’t keep everything on our shelves forever. Eventually we have to make space. So what do we do to combat this problem?

We weed. We find the books that haven’t circulated even once in four or more years and we remove them from our collection. And what happens to those books we remove? Lots of different things. Some we sell. Some we give away as part of our Free Book Distribution program around town. And some find a different kind of home.

Recently I was approached by a woman from the organization Chicago Books to Women in Prison ( This group supplies incarcerated women with reading material. After hearing what they were looking for, I was able to pass along some of the books we were weeding already.

Want to help as well? As it turns out ChicagoBWP has an online wish list of books they would like. They’ve paired with the Chicago bookseller Women & Children first to create a list found at You purchase the books and ChicagoBWP will go to the store to pick them up. So not only are you supporting women in need of books, but you’re also helping out independent bookstores!

Now what’s not to love about that?


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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