Prison Libraries Committee
Who we are:
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,
- the Women’s Correctional Centre (WCC) in Headingley, Manitoba,
- the Headingley Men's Prison, and
- The Pas Correctional Centre in The Pas, Manitoba.
Programs have also been 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 Manitoba.
What we believe:
We believe prison libraries and literacy play an important role in peoples' reintegration into communities. Thoughtful programming and access to meaningful and relevant reading materials can help improve individuals' quality of life both inside and outside of correctional institutions.
Please read the Prisoners Right to Read statement adopted by the Canadian Federation of Library Associations.
What we do:
- At the Winnipeg Remand Centre:
- we offer a weekly “Open Library” session for inmates at the WRC and
- a biweekly “Bin Refresh” of materials to units, using collections we develop and maintain.(Note: there is no designated library space at the WRC - the program is run out of the Sanctuary.)
- At the Women's Correctional Centre:
- we offer biweekly "Book Exchange" services for women at the WCC (Note: while there is a designated library space at WCC, the Book Exchange is held down in the units.)
- we help develop and organize the library at the WCC
- At the Headingley Men's Prison:
- we gather collect donations, and help develop and organize the book room every few months.
- At The Pas Correctional Centre:
- we offer a biweekly "Open Library" for inmates at The Pas Correctional Centre. (Note: there is no designated library space at The Pas - the program is run out of the gym.)
- At all of our partner correctional institutions:
- we arrange special guests such as author talks, writing workshops, and songwriter visits
- we create library awareness for inmates to inform on the resources and tools of the library for when they are released
- we commit to work together with partner sites and organizations towards the mutual goal of providing inmates and reintegrating men and women with relevant reading material and information
- we act with respect to both inmates and workers in the justice system
- we advocate for the greatest access to reading materials and information possible within the environments of individual correctional institutions
Interested in volunteering?
We welcome new volunteers and have several different opportunities both within and outside of correctional institutions. You can read about each opportunity in the Volunteer Descriptions at the bottom of this page. (Please note: some volunteer opportunities may be filled but several positions require multiple volunteers.)
- The PLC is a committee under the auspices of the Manitoba Library Association. As PLC volunteers we represent the Manitoba Library Association. Membership in the Association is encouraged.
- Clearances and orientations are required for volunteering at either the WRC or the WCC. (Note: clearances and training can take weeks (and sometimes months) to attain.) If you are choosing to volunteer outside a correctional facility, this is not needed.
- We ask that potential volunteers consider that consistency is an important part of building trust with our partner organizations and the individuals we serve. We encourage people to commit to only what they can deliver.
- To find out more about volunteering, see the descriptions at the bottom of this page and contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested in donating?
We are happy to receive monetary donations to be put towards new book purchases. Donations over $20.00 are eligible for a tax receipt. Cheques can be made out to the Manitoba Library Association and mailed to the address below. Please specify "Prison Libraries Committee" in the memo. Additional ways to donate can be found at the bottom of this page.
Books will be delivered either to the WRC (paperback only) or the WCC in Headingly, Manitoba (hardcover and paperback.) Books delivered to the WRC are not catalogued or "checked out" by inmates, who often choose to keep the books that are circulated within the facility. Books delivered to the WCC are housed in a designated library space (although they are not catalogued). Books borrowed by the women at WCC are more likely to be returned through our formal Book Exchange project.
You are welcome to indicate a preferred institution for your donation. If you have any questions or concerns about the donations, please contact us at email@example.com
Read/learn more about our committee:
Listen to From classics to dictionaries, the books that prisoners want to read from CBC Radio's Now or Never (February 2017)
Short YouTube video featuring MLA-PLC volunteer Monique Woroniak describing our programs and services (May 2016)
Books Behind Bars: a volunteer-run prison library service in Winnipeg, Manitoba - from In the Library with a Lead Pipe (March 26, 2014)
Free to Read: Bringing Library Programming into the Winnipeg Remand Centre - from Wired West 2014 Volume 17, Issue 2.
Books Behind and Beyond Bars - an article written for Feliciter magazine (Vol. 59, No.2 April 2013)
General questions about the PLC can be directed to Kirsten Wurmann, chair of the PLC.
Using Paypal to donate to the Manitoba Library Association, including the Prison Libraries Committee
To donate to the Manitoba Libraries Association, CM: Canadian Review of Materials, MLA Indigenous Interest Group, or the MLA Prison Libraries Committee, click the donation button below and specify the group your donation is directed to in the PayPal field labelled "Donation directed to:". Donations without donation directions will be added to the MLA general donation pool.