[Michlib-l] serving the incarcerated from a public library question

Cathy Sullivan Seblonka cathys at pwpl.info
Wed Jul 9 14:11:08 EDT 2014

Hello, everyone.

How do you handle requests mailed to your reference department from
prisoners incarcerated in Michigan prisons whether the prison is within
your service area or not?

When a prisoner asks for books we write a letter to the prisoner and
suggest they use their prison's interlibrary loan system. We have been
answering reference questions such as what is the address of a particular
publisher, will you please send me a copy of a picture of a circus, etc.,
via return letter. Someone working at a Michigan prison is now questioning
us as to whether the public library should answer reference questions from

Does your library have a policy about this? What do you do when you
receive reference requests from prisoners? I suspect prison librarians are
overworked and cannot answer all the questions they must get.

Thanks for thinking about this and sending suggestions and comments.


Cathy Sullivan Seblonka
Collection Development/Reference Librarian
Peter White Public Library
217 N. Front St.
Marquette, MI 49855
cathys at pwpl.info

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