Bringing resources to Dauphin County Prison
In 2021, The Library formed an exciting new partnership with the Dauphin County Prison to develop our region’s first Digital Prison Library. Safety concerns at the prison led administrators to eliminate their entire print collection in favor of tablets. The tablets, which came at no cost to the prison, offered access to some information and were a step in the right direction. However, the materials detainees required for educational, spiritual, and cultural fulfillment were limited. The prison was looking for ways to provide easier access to content that would benefit inmates on their journey to reentry.
As the prison was upgrading its technology, another development was occurring. The Boyd Foundation made a generous contribution to the Dauphin County Library System dedicated to
increasing literacy opportunities among detainees. The timing was perfect. The donation allowed Dauphin County Library System to partner with Overdrive and open a second catalog designated entirely for the Dauphin County Prison. Overdrive is a digital library service that allows users to access eBooks and other resources easily. Users can search for eBooks, audiobooks, and other content from their tablets. The carefully curated collection contains more than 800 titles and has reached circulation numbers as high as 4,212 items in a month. After its initiation, other libraries from across the country looked to the model established by the Digital Prison Library. Representatives from the Dauphin County Library System now sit on a council that includes the San Francisco Public Library, State Library of Delaware, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, New Your Public Library, St. Louis Public Library, and Delaware Technical Library, all of whom are interested in recreating the success of the Digital Prison Library.