Graduate organization holds book drive for CU Books 2 Prisoners

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Ryan Ash

A UC Books to Prisoners drop-off box sits inside the School of Information Sciences building on Tuesday morning.

By Payal Rathore, Staff Writer

The Graduate Employee Organization’s mutual aid society is holding a book drive from Jan. 24 until Feb. 14 to support Urbana-Champaign Books 2 Prisoners, an organization dedicated to providing books to incarcerated individuals in Illinois.

Books 2 Prisoners is an Illinois based project which provides books to incarcerated individuals for free via mail and county jail libraries.

“The goal of the program is to provide access to reading material for educational and entertainment purposes,” said Becca Maree, GEO Administrative Assistant. 

Activities that are part of this program include responding to letters and sending books through mail. Books are selected from the donated collection and are sent per prisoners’ requests. The lending libraries in the jails were briefly closed after which they were restarted. However, they have been shut down again due to the ongoing pandemic as they needed more space to quarantine prisoners.

“Many jails don’t have the budget for libraries,” Maree said. 

In order to cope up with the short supply of books due to the shutting down of library programs, volunteers are now collecting boxes of books every week. Donations have also continued at their designated drop-boxes.

Drop off locations include the Orchard Downs main office, GEO Office, School of Information Sciences at Illinois, IMC and Common Ground Food Coop.

“As part of the Bookdrive, the books are sanitized at the drop off locations,” said Emiliana Cofell, GEO Mutual Aid Committee and MatSE Steward. “This committee focuses on aiding members of our community for this empowering cause. This initiative started during the pandemic because we wanted to reach out by helping a wider community.”

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