The Colorado State Library’s Institutional Library Development unit serves
over 15,000 adult offenders in 21 Department of Corrections facilities
statewide, and 900 residents in 11
Division of Youth Corrections
In keeping with the public library model of patron services, our
library collections represent broad and varied points of view in a
variety of accessible formats. Our libraries also offer a variety of
public library-style programs ranging from book clubs and Spanish
classes to resumé writing and literacy.
The Colorado Correctional
Libraries hold intellectual freedom and the
Prisoner’s Right to Read
in uniquely creative tension with the demands of security in a
sometimes volatile environment.
The Colorado State Library’s Institutional Library Development
unit and the staff of the Colorado Correctional Libraries believe
that libraries have the power to change the world “one reader at a
time.” Many of us find prisoners to be the most appreciative and
enthusiastic library users we’ve ever worked with, and serving them
to be the most gratifying work we’ve ever done.
Please visit the Institutional Library Development page for information about our
other activities and our Staff page for profiles of the
Institutional Library Development team.
Re-entry and Recidivism
Reflective of the prison population nationwide, 97% of Colorado’s incarcerated offenders will eventually be released. Also
reflective of national trends, over 50% these individuals will return to prison within five years. This degree of recidivism
produces devastating social consequences for families, victims, and offenders themselves, and entails a more than three-quarters
of a billion dollar annual price tag for Colorado taxpayers.
Successful reentry means never returning to prison. It depends on numerous interrelated factors, including education, housing,
finding employment, staying healthy, and reconnecting with family and friends. The Colorado Correctional Libraries contribute to reducing
- Providing current, quality recreational and information reading materials, music, and video recordings that help offenders constructively
manage their leisure time and help them stay connected to events and cultural trends in the outside world.
- Providing materials and programs on specific reentry subjects, like interview skills, parenting, getting a driver’s license,
personal finance, and eating healthily on a budget.
- Offering the Read to the Children program at 15 Department of Corrections facilities, which helps offenders stay involved in their
children’s lives by encouraging their children to read.
- Giving offenders a wide range of choices, which allows them to exercise good decision-making and to explore previously unimagined
possibilities and opportunities for themselves.
Parenting from Prison - for Children of Offenders
- Books recommended for children with an incarcerated parent
- The Sesame Street educational tool kit, "Little
Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration," is recommended for
families and children ages 3-8 of an incarcerated parent.
- "Breaking the Cycle: Prison Reading Program Encourages Literacy" (PDF) by Diane Walden,
Colorado Libraries 30(4), 2004.
Intergenerational low-literacy is fact. This prison reading program helps break the cycle of low literacy and criminal activity, directly addressing the situation of parenting from prison head-on. It could also be adapted for non-custodial parents in many situations.
to the Children program
in correctional libraries. This
project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of
Museum and Library Services.
- Brochure -
Read to the Children program - An idea for your library
One Book 4
Colorado audio recording of "Duck on a Bike" by Mr.
Steven Romero, May 2013 (audio clip)
One Book 4
Colorado audio recording of "Duck on a Bike" by CDOC
offender, May 2013 (audio clip)
One Book 4
Colorado audio recording of "Maybe a Bear Ate It" by a CDOC
offender, April 2012 (audio clip)
to the Children recording #1 by a CDOC offender,
November 2011 (audio clip)
- Read to
the Children recording #2 by a CDOC offender, November 2011
Read to the
Children recording #3 by a CDOC offender, November 2011 (audio clip)
For the Public
- How to Donate Materials to State Correctional, Mental
Health, and Veterans Homes Libraries
Donations to state institutional libraries are appreciated.
For more information on how you can donate, email ILD Acquisitions
Librarian Camden Tadhg.