Individuals sitting on a couch while reading

Institutional Libraries Have Growing Holiday Wishlist

The holidays are upon us, and a valuable statewide program could use your help! The Institutional Library Services program of the Office of the Secretary of State needs literature and resources to support adult and youth patrons in prisons and state hospitals.

Institutional Library Services, which is a part of the Washington State Library, partners with the state’s Department of Corrections, the Department of Social and Health Services, and the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to provide library services to incarcerated individuals in correctional facilities, patients in adult psychiatric hospitals, and youth in juvenile detention facilities. ILS strives to provide a welcoming, neutral place where informational, educational, and recreational needs are met.

Throughout the state, individuals in these facilities benefit from diverse reading and audio materials, emphasizing reentry, self-improvement, self-paced learning, and digital literacy.

Many of these facilities across the state have compiled these much-needed resources and literature in their wish lists. These include titles penned by President Barack Obama, a comic book about processing emotions, tips for stretching, and NPR’s Best Book of 2023, “The Talk.” There are even several requests to supplement a parenting program at the Washington Corrections Center for Women, such as picture books and bilingual board books.

Institutional Librarian Anna Nash said these services are crucial aspects of library users’ lives.

“The ILS branch libraries are a vital and vibrant part of the psychiatric hospitals, prisons, and juvenile detention centers where they are located,” Nash said. “Library users have an opportunity to seek information, connect to the outside world, or escape into a great book.”

Donations also support local bookstores, like Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane and Queen Anne Book Co. in Seattle.

“Our patrons’ hunger for books is insatiable,” Nash said, “and support from community members not only helps us meet those needs, but it also communicates to our patrons that they have not been forgotten.”

If you are a librarian or have library experience who would like to help ensure equitable access to information, ILS has many job openings, thanks in part to a generous allocation of funding from the Legislature. A complete list of ILS job openings can be found here.

Branch Librarian Jennifer Haas says she loves working as a librarian and encourages anyone passionate about helping marginalized communities to apply.

“I love working with a team of like-minded professionals who ensure access to information and entertainment for some of our state's most marginalized patrons, some of whom have rarely had such access,” Haas said. “It's a rare combination to have a job you love going to each workday and a team of colleagues you know will always support you.”

For a complete resource wish list, visit this website. Prices start at $4.99. Any bookstore owners in Washington who would like to join this project can email Community Outreach Librarian Sara Peté.


Secretary of State
Steve Hobbs

Image of Secretary of State Steve Hobbs

Connect with Us

Search Our Corner

About this Blog

The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services.

This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Steve Hobbs and his staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

Comments Disclaimer

The comments and opinions expressed by users of this blog are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Secretary of State’s Office or its employees. The agency screens all comments in accordance with the Secretary of State’s blog use policy, and only those that comply with that policy will be approved and posted. Outside comments will not be edited by the agency.