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A Letter From APBP

Dear APBPers, 
What an amazing 2015 we’ve had, and 2016 is off to a great start too! We could not have done all we’ve accomplished without the amazing support of our volunteers and friends.
This past month our outreach coordinator, Aaron, hosted an APBP benefit show in Harrisonburg, Va. The event raised money for APBP’s continued efforts to get books into the hands of those incarcerated in Appalachia. 
Many of you have noticed our upgraded efforts to use social media, including Facebook, to further the project. Thanks to Facebook we were able to answer the request of a mother who messaged to ask us to send a book to her son in a Tennessee facility. Be sure to follow us online to keep in touch with all the latest updates. 
We have many more benefits, readings, book drives and events planned for the coming year, as well as the continued work of sending out all those free books. Thanks for all your work making the project a success!
Many thanks, 
Michael Buso on behalf of the Appalachian Prison Book Project

Members of the Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology Association at WVU attended a regular Saturday training at APBP's headquarters at the Aull Center in Morgantown.

Meet Our Team

Volunteer Meghan Harding

I am a local resident here in Morgantown. I began volunteering with APBP in 2013 because I thought it was a great project and I was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity. I felt this was a great fit because I value education and I believe that every person is entitled to the opportunity to learn. 

It has grown to mean so much to me because of all the letters I see every time I volunteer. I enjoy each tiny connection with a person who needs and wants an opportunity to learn or expand their world. I have seen the impact APBP has had on the people it serves throughout the years, and how much an opportunity for learning is cherished by so many who have access to so little. This experience makes me proud to be a small part of such a wonderful organization.

A Tale of Two Checks

In December, I received an email from Jeff Schneider, a friend from elementary school. We had not talked in over 30 years. Jeff told me he has been following the development of APBP and was hoping to make a donation. "Great!" I said. Every donation makes a difference. I told him about our recent efforts. I was thinking, 50 bucks, maybe 100. Jeff was always nice.  

The next day Jeff told me he and his spouse were going to donate $10,000. He hoped this would buy more packing paper and scissors. 

Around the same time, APBP received a check from “an inmate at Mt. Olive Correctional Center.” This check was made out for $10 and, like all checks we receive from people who are incarcerated, means the world to us.

Thank you, Jeff and Jennifer Schneider, for believing in APBP and educational justice, for reaching out and reminding me that connections with others can last and matter.

And thank you to the generous person at Mt. Olive, whose name I cannot include here. Your gift will keep us going.

  –Katy Ryan

Women's Book Club at Hazelton 

The women’s book club continues to meet every other week at Hazelton Correctional Center. In the fall, we read Julia Alvarez’s "In the Time of the Butterflies," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s "Americanah," and Mark Brazaitis’s "An American Affair." We held three think-tank sessions and writing workshops.

Gwen Bergner of the WVU English Department joined us to discuss "In the Time of the Butterflies." Gwen arrived with her great knowledge of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Gwen said she was “so impressed by how self-possessed, smart, thoughtful, and mutually respectful the women were.” She has promised to come back in the spring for our discussion of Edwidge Danticat’s "The Farming of Bones."

Mark Brazaitis, also of the English Department, continues to give generously of his time (and his books!) to the book club. Mark has said, “In my 25 years of teaching and guest lecturing, in classrooms from Fordham to Ohio University to WVU, I have worked with hundreds of brilliant students. None have been more engaged and engaging — more fun and more full of a desire to learn and debate ideas — than the women at Hazelton. What a great group. What a strange and troubling notion that, at the end of our vibrant, inspiring book-club meetings, they return to cages.”

Co-facilitators Cari Carpenter and Katy Ryan look forward to more discussions in the spring semester.   

Volunteer Interns

Hope Hart, a WVU English major, has been bringing her activist energy and vision to APBP. In the fall, Hope was our first volunteer intern. She trained new volunteers, made contacts with community groups, and mobilized students to organize APBP’s off-site book storage — no small feat!

Hope included in her intern log a list of "Things that I would like to do with APBP if I had 10 arms and unlimited time.”

Thanks to computer wiz Steph Buongiorno, an MA student in Professional Writing and Editing, APBP is experimenting with a new records database. All 17,000+ books mailed to imprisoned people have been recorded in worn notebooks. Steph has created a database tailored to APBP’s needs — with an astronaut cat at command control.

APBP welcomes English graduate students Lydia Welker (Professional Writing and Editing, MA Student) and Courtney Druzak (Literary Studies, MA Student) as volunteer interns for spring 2016. Courtney and Lydia bring energy, passion, and serious skills to the table. We are so thankful for their assistance.

Most Needed

There are some books that are so often requested that we can't keep up. And we are always in need of funds for postage.
  • Dictionaries
  • Thesauruses
  • Almanacs
  • World language dictionaries and books, especially in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese
  • Books on Wicca
  • Books on Eastern mysticism
  • Books on art, drawing, anime
  • "How to" books on skills, including crochet, business, construction, computers, etc.

About APBP

The Appalachian Prison Book Project is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that sends free books to women and men who are imprisoned in the Appalachian region. The project sends books to West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Many prisons lack adequate libraries, and books can be a real life line to people doing time. Studies have repeatedly shown that recidivism rates go down when people in prison have access to educational programs. APBP considers its work part of this larger social goal.

Founded by Katy Ryan and members of her graduate prison literature course in the fall of 2004, APBP is a network of volunteers who respond to approximately 80 letters a week from imprisoned people requesting reading materials. 

Mail Bag 

"I just received the dictionary I requested and the "classic" Hamlet yous guys sent. Thanks guys for always being there 2 assist with the growth of my continued consciousness.
Please never feel unappreciated in your job you do for those like myself. Yes, I was a hard headed child when I left the "free"-world but a child none-the-less, so thank yous for equipping me with the knowledge 2 grow as a man." 

-Sheldon, Federal Correctional Institution Cumberland, Maryland

Book Tally

Since 2006, APBP has mailed more than 17,300 books to people imprisoned in six states.

Volunteer with APBP

Want to volunteer with the Appalachian Prison Book Project? Send an e-mail to  

Third Benefit in Harrisonburg

Thanks to Aaron Moss — APBP's outreach coordinator — for hosting for the third year a wonderful APBP benefit performance in Harrisonburg, Va. The concert raised $637. If you are interested in sponsoring a benefit for APBP, e-mail us at

Issue 3, Winter 2016

This issue of Appalachian Prison Book Project News was produced by Katy Ryan and Diana Mazzella.

Copyright © 2016 Appalachian Prison Book Project, All rights reserved.

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