Washington State Library, Spokane Public Library team up to provide library cards to inmates prior to release

The Washington State Library and Spokane Public Library (SPL) are working together to provide library cards to inmates who are released from nine Washington corrections centers and move to Spokane.

“The State Library and Spokane Public Library share a goal of seeing inmates successfully transition back into society once they are released from prison,” said Washington State Librarian Cindy Aden. “By providing library cards to released inmates who relocate to Spokane, we can provide them with services and opportunities through workforce development, as well as access to education and information that will help them grow and succeed once they re-enter society.”

“We are pleased to be the first library in the state to offer library cards to inmates upon their release,” said Andrew Chanse, Spokane Public Library Executive Director. “Prisoners returning to the community face many challenges and the library represents a return to normalcy. We aim to assist with re-entry by connecting these individuals with resources — like online learning and job search assistance — to improve their lives and reduce recidivism.”

Under a Memorandum of Understanding recently signed by State Library and Spokane Public Library officials, inmates may register for a Spokane Public Library card prior to their release from the following state corrections centers if the city of Spokane is their designated release address: Airway Heights Corrections Center, Clallam Bay Corrections Center, Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, Stafford Creek Corrections Center, Twin Rivers Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center for Women, Washington State Penitentiary or Washington State Reformatory.

The State Library, a division of the Office of Secretary of State, will collaborate with Spokane Public Library on providing classes and events that will provide learning opportunities to released inmates and other members of the public.

“We think giving released inmates access to classes and other services through the Spokane Public Library will enable them to start the next chapter of their lives on a positive note and help reduce the recidivism rate,” Aden said. “We are so happy to have SPL adopt our idea to offer library cards to inmates, and we look forward to partnering with other libraries around the state to make this a truly effective network and a kind of safety net for releasing inmates. What better place than a library to get support for job training, searching for housing and educational opportunities!”

The Memorandum of Understanding’s term lasts through Aug. 31, 2019, unless terminated earlier or extended by the State Library and SPL.

Washington’s Office of Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, as well as documenting extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington.

- Washington State Library