Prisoner Support Zines

Prizon Support Zines

Prisoner support encompasses a variety of activities aimed a providing assistance to prisoners. There are a variety of ways to support prisoners: letter writing, visitations if possible, providing financial support, and, here in Monroe County, donating books for the jail library.

The Monroe County Public Library visits the county jail multiple times throughout the week, and circulates over 1,000 books a month to around 200 inmates. Each inmate has access to the library around once every three weeks.

Here are some related zines available at the Main Library.


Behavior Modification by Jason Robb


Written and beautifully illustrated by an inmate on death row in the Ohio SuperMax system, Behavior Modification is a zine that provides an inside look at the conditions and reality that he faces every day he spends in prison. He reflects on how systems of control are used to modify prisoner behavior.


What is Prisoner Support? A Collection of Original Writings from Political Prisoners on Prisoner Support and Solidarity

What This is a Picture Of

The zine is a compilation of political prisoner statements and letters. Many of these correspondences include accounts of why the prisoner is incarcerated and some of the daily struggles they are facing. Prisoners speak on their ideals and how to enact change within the world even as they remain behind bars. They also detail various ways others can support incarcerated individuals - including possible visitation and letter writing tips.


An Interview Of A Caged Rose by Leon Benson

What This is a Picture Of

Artistic rewritings and retellings of Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet and the violence surrounding them, as told through an interview by Indiana inmate Leon Benson.


Celling Black Bodies: Black Women in the Global Prison Industrial Complex by Julia Sudbury

What This is a Picture Of

This zine details how black women are being criminalized and caught up in the expanding network of penal repression. It gives direct statistics of women imprisoned, the history and emergence of the prison industrial complex, and personal examples of the negative impact this is having on many lives.


Prison Abolition by Yves Bourque

What This is a Picture Of

Bourque details how prisons are inhumane at their very root. He states that society will continue to destroy itself if the present general ideology about our criminal “justice” and prison system is allowed to remain. Using this logic, and the gross injustice done to prisoners, Bourque calls for the total abolition of the prison system.


Black People’s Prison Survival Guide by Abdullah Ibraheem

What This is a Picture Of

Ibraheem details, in various parts, America’s penal history, past and present victims, spiritual and mental health, and how time is utilized in prison. As a prisoner for over 15 years in the Ohio prisons, Ibraheem is familiar with the penal system firsthand. This book was meant to safeguard individuals in their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being while in prison.

Library Eliminates Overdue Fines

At their meeting on Wednesday, January 15, the Library Board of Directors approved a policy to eliminate overdue fines, effective March 1. The policy waives all unpaid overdue fines and collection agency fees charged prior to implementation, and eliminates fines for all late returns moving forward.

Libraries have long charged overdue fines to promote responsible borrowing and as a modest source of revenue. Recent national trends have shifted to focus on the negative impacts of fines as a deterrent to library use, especially among disadvantaged individuals. Consequently, a growing number of public libraries have eliminated overdue fines in an effort to support all members of their communities, and the American Library Association earlier this year passed a resolution stating that fines constitute a barrier to service and urging their elimination nationwide.

“Discussions about eliminating fines have been taking place in libraries across the country for many years,” said Marilyn Wood, Library Director. “Some of our peer libraries, such as Tippecanoe County Public Library, as well as many larger libraries like Chicago Public Library have eliminated late fines. Their experiences have been very positive––people came back, circulation rates increased, and books once thought lost, were returned. It’s a great way to celebrate the Library’s bicentennial.”

Here in Monroe County, there are significant socio-economic disparities among our patrons. We have tried to address access barriers for specific user groups by not charging overdue fines for children’s materials or at outreach service points. In 2016, we took another important step by implementing automatic renewals, thereby forestalling overdue fines in many circumstances.

“A lot of things can get in the way of people returning library materials when they intend to, including health issues, vehicle breakdowns, and unanticipated demands of work, school, or family,” said Chris Jackson, Special Audiences Strategist. “Our goal is to provide free, equitable, and convenient access for all residents of Monroe County. Penalizing late returns of Library materials has a disproportionate effect on community members with limited financial means who have fewer alternatives for books, films, and educational media to begin with.”

While overdue fines and collection agency fees will be waived, patrons owing the replacement cost of a lost or damaged item will continue to be billed accordingly. Moving forward, items that are 21 days overdue will be assumed to be lost and patrons will be billed for them, however, if the items are returned in good condition, the charges will be removed and the account will resume good standing.

As of December 2019, we have 2,201 customers who cannot check out materials due to outstanding fees. We currently charge $.25 per day for items kept past their due date with a maximum of $10 per item in overdue fines. These charges can add up quickly.

“We know there are people in our community who aren’t using the Library simply because they have long-standing overdue items and associated overdue fines,” said Grier Carson, Access and Content Manager. “By removing the financial barrier to Library use, we hope to see an increase in registered patrons and, ultimately, an increase in circulation.”

Libraries across the country that eliminated overdue fines report that patrons still return items on time, that more items are checked out, and that interactions between staff and patrons are positive. Additionally, studies have shown that because of costs associated with tracking and collecting the money, overdue fines are close to cost-neutral. Overdue fine revenue constitutes less than 1% of the Library’s annual operating budget. For more information, read these frequently asked questions.

The Census: Respond by October 15

hands raised

The Library is a proud partner of the 2020 census, which determines the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding. If you’re not already familiar, once every 10 years, the census counts every person residing in the 50 United States, DC, and five US territories. Data collected affects the country’s ability to ensure equal representation and access to government resources, directly affecting funding for schools, healthcare services, housing, transportation, and of course, libraries. Everyone living in the United States is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census.

If you are able to receive postal mail, your invitation should have arrived in mid-March. The 2020 census is the first to encourage participation through online response. The invitation you received will provide a unique code allowing you to participate online, as well as information about how to answer the census by telephone or postal mail. The self-response phase of the census will last through October 15, 2020.

It’s important that the data collected is as accurate as possible. Undercounting can deny the community a full voice in policy decision-making (i.e. the number of seats in Congress each state gets) and reduce access to essential resources for those who need them most.

Whether you rent or own your home, every person in a household should be included in your census response. Newborns, children, non-permanent residents, immigrants, blended, and multi-generational families––everyone should be counted for the census.

Data resulting from the census also helps organizations plan for the future. For the Library, this can mean developing outreach services and programming strategies to reach people in Monroe County’s diverse community, as well as planning for new branches and services.

If you don’t self-respond to the census, you can expect to receive reminders and/or visits from census workers in person. The Census Bureau estimates that it will take approximately 10 minutes to complete the census.

Answers are anonymous and every census employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. The law ensures your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. Additionally, the Census Bureau will not email or text residents or ask for bank or credit card information.

Also, if you're looking for a job, the U.S. Census Bureau is still hiring! Census employees are essential to getting an accurate count. For more information on the census, or to respond, visit

The Gift of Reading

The Library offers a white elephant staff picks display with books patrons can surprise themself with.

By Chantal Cagle, Information Assistant

Last year, one night in December, a gentleman pulled up to the Main Library drive-up window to pick up his holds. I scanned his card and saw he had 13 books waiting for him.

"You have a lot to pick up!" I said.
"It's the best part of Christmas," he replied.

As I trundled back and forth between the shelves and the checkout counter with his books, I pondered his words. Surely he knew he had to return the books? I handed him back his library card.

"When you said it was the best part of Christmas, did you mean you have more time to read them, or did you mean giving the books?"
"The books are destined to be wrapped and deposited under the tree," he replied.
"You know you have to return them though, right?"
"Oh yes, that's part of the fun––not holding onto things," he laughed.

He then explained that every year he reads the New York Times best books of the year list, then checks out as many as he can from the library, wrapping them up, and giving them to his family as presents. They read the books all winter break, then return them to the library. Now in her 20s, his daughter sends him a wishlist for the 'library fairy' before she returns home for the holidays. 

What a fantastic and unique idea. I bet they have great dinner table conversation.

Library Receives Grant for Future Southwest Branch Teaching Kitchen

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC) awarded the Library a grant for equipment, appliances, and supplies to establish a 600-square foot teaching kitchen as part of the construction of the forthcoming Southwest Branch Library. Scheduled to open in 2022, the kitchen will provide free, hands-on cooking and nutrition programs for all ages, increasing food security and advancing literacy, math, and science. The Library has hired an architect for the new branch and is currently investigating site options.

CFBMC recognized 11 nonprofit organizations on Thursday, December 12, at its annual Community Impact Grant Awards reception. This competitive grant program, co-funded by Smithville Charitable Foundation, is designed to fuel innovative ideas and lasting impact in Monroe County through funding opportunities to meet our community’s most pressing needs and seize its most compelling opportunities.

“Both the response to our request for grant proposals and the projects proposed inspired and impressed our evaluation team," said CFBMC President and CEO Tina Peterson. "We’re proud that each of the grants awarded this year has the potential to enhance our community for the benefit of all and make Monroe County and even better place to live, work, and play."

In the summer of 2018, community members of all ages participated in scheduled community conversations throughout southwest Monroe County and took an online survey. Less traditional to a library, a teaching kitchen and cooking classes were regularly requested. This was a desire not only from adults, but from teens, as the 371 teens surveyed at Batchelor Middle School selected cooking classes as their second most desired new library feature, just behind gaming options.

The Library plans to partner with Purdue Extension Health and Human Sciences on programming. The Extension considers the community their classroom, where they bring information to the local level and help people strengthen families, spend smart, eat right, and live well. 

"Having provided various educational programs in the past for the Library and residents of the county in general, there is a real need for cooking classes not only to demonstrate how to cook and prepare healthy foods but also for people who need basic cooking skills," said Annie Eakin, Community Wellness Coordinator. "Purdue Extension offers evidence-based educational programs focused on both heart health and diabetes in addition to creating programs based on unique needs."

Additionally, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard has offered to provide consultation on the design and needs of the teaching kitchen, and envisions partnering on projects, targeting populations that don’t regularly visit their own location, such as teens.

"For several years we have had the opportunity to partner with the Library on a variety of nutrition and gardening-related projects, from teaching simple pickle canning to A Readable Feast, which combines cooking with a book club (shown above)," said Amanda Nickey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mother Hubbard's Cupboard. "Community building is at the heart of the Hub’s work and we’re grateful to have partners who share our values, work alongside us, and increase our impact."

Other ideas for classes include essential skills in cooking, nutrition, food budgeting, recipe building, meal planning, preserving, pickling, gardening, and more. The Library plans to continue its cooking-based book club, to explore different food cultures, and to potentially invite cookbook and food-related authors in for author events. Additionally, programs specific to learners in the Volunteers in Tutoring Adult Learners (VITAL) English as a second language conversation groups could expand on their English-language skills in the teaching kitchen.

Mental Health Zines

Mental Health Zines

Due to the prevalence and need for mental health services, and a general lack of them in many communities, zines on mental health serve a special need. Zines can help frame mental health in both a frank and gentle way, while also providing tips and encouragement for self-care. Many mental health zines are based around an individual's personal experience, so they provide a first-hand account of the associated trauma and healing processes. These zines can also acknowledge intersectional issues—issues that speak to the fact that queer individuals, people of color, and folks who are differently-abled deal with additional institutional forms of oppression, and thus stress. For anyone interested in learning more, here is a selection of zines in the Library’s collection that cover this topic.

Impulse Control Disorder

Cover of Impulse Control Disorder

In Impulse Control Disorder, Juliet Eldred shares about their experiences with trichotillomania, the compulsion to pull out one’s own body hair. Through a series of drawings and lists, they share what this behavior is, what triggers them into this behavior, and strategies that they employ to help tamp down on their urges. It's a fascinating insight into a condition that can be otherwise invisible or hard to see.


Wax & Feathers: The Icarus Project Zine v April 2011

Cover of Wax & Feathers

From the inside cover: “The Icarus Project is a network of people living with/or affected by experiences that are commonly diagnosed and labeled as psychiatric conditions. This zine is a collaborative effort by Icarus Project members. In expressing our feelings, insights, and ideas about madness and the world around us, we hope to inform and inspire others.”


Where Are You Going?

Cover of Falling Apart

Moving is so stressful and moving to a place where you don’t know anyone is so much worse. “Where are you going?” is a part diary, part workbook, part reflection on the author’s experience moving across the country from California to Memphis, leaving behind their support structure and community. Their reflections and insights are great, anyone who’s moving to a new town would do well to read this.


Sorry For Being A Bummer: Denial-Based Mental Healthcare

cover of Sorry For Being A Bummer

Written by local author Kristin Ousley, this comic zine highlights depression and some of the feelings associated with it.


Falling Apart: A Zine On Death, Grief, Mourning & Loss

Cover of Falling Apart

A compilation of personal poems, stories, and postcards on death, grief, mourning, and loss. Includes international and intergenerational perspectives.


If You’d Like To Hear It I Can Sing It For You: A Zine On Aging: Vol. 001

Cover of Sing it For You

This zine hosts various authors giving their stories, poems, or collages on aging. Some of the individuals work in retirement homes, some remember fond memories with their grandparents and some talk about their personal aging journey.


Get It Together. v. 1

Cover of Get it Together

Sometimes you need a pick me up. Find one with this perzine filled with art and inspirational quotes.

Library Receives Grants for Seed Library and Gardening Initiatives

Seed Library

According to the National Gardening Association, 35% of households in the US grow food either at home or in a community garden, up 200% in the last ten years. In keeping with the trend, the Library recently applied for and received two generous gardening grants.

The Main Library received a grant from the George E. Archer Foundation to support a series of gardening programs for preschool and school-aged children, the purchase of a bench in the Children’s Garden, and the start of a seed library. The George E. Archer Foundation strives to help boys and girls learn about gardening in South Central Indiana, providing grants that support gardening education initiatives for youth.

The seed library is a collection of non-invasive, non-GMO food and flower seeds that you can take to plant at home. Some seeds are organic, some are heirloom, and some are pollinator-friendly. Seeds can be found in The Commons on the second floor of the Main Library.

“The Seed Library offers families the opportunity to work together cohesively,” said Ginny Hosler, Children’s Community Engagement Librarian. “Among other benefits, gardening is a great way for kids to grow social and emotional skills. Gardening with their caregivers also helps develop a family support system, which can empower youth throughout their entire life.”

While gardening can increase access to nutritious foods and help save on groceries, purchasing seeds can be expensive and restrictive.

"It's exciting to remove another barrier to families and individuals growing their own food,” said Morning Wilder, Adult Community Engagement Librarian. “In addition to offering free seeds, we’ll provide educational experiences to support food autonomy, interest in the natural world, and hands-on learning.”

The Ellettsville Branch Library also received a grant from the Smithville Charitable Foundation to install raised garden beds and a bench and to provide resources to begin gardening programming. The Smithville Charitable Foundation has supported the needs of central and southern Indiana since 2007.

“The garden will be a space where patrons of all ages can help library staff cultivate vegetables or native plants. Any produce grown will be donated back to the Ellettsville community,” said Jane Cronkhite, Associate Director. “The garden will be open for everyone in the Ellettsville community to view, sit and read in, and enjoy.”

The seed library is available now. Related programming at both branches will begin in the spring.

Want to learn more about nature and environmental topics? Check out Talking Leaves Book Club, a new nonfiction reading group. 

Gardening Books for Kids

It's Your Lucky Day with the Libby App!

It could be your lucky day!

Skip the waitlist for new, in-demand titles through the Libby app from OverDrive! Libby now offers select eBook and audiobook titles on a first-come, first-served basis. Browse the app’s “Lucky Day” section for available books. The selection will change as titles are returned and new books are added, so check back often!

In addition to “Lucky Day” titles, readers can browse the “Always Available” list in Libby to find all immediately available eBooks and audiobooks. Libby also offers current issues of popular magazines like Newsweek and TV Guide.

If you’re new to Libby, you can download it from the app store, create an account using your Library card number and password, then start browsing! The Libby app is available for Apple and Android devices. eBooks can also be read on Kindle devices.

eBooks are returned automatically with no overdue fines. Titles check out for 7 or 14 days, you choose. Read more about Libby and OverDrive.

Need help getting your device set up to read eBooks? Contact the Library via chat or email, or call (812) 349-3050. For in-person assistance, stop by any information desk or schedule a one-on-one technology help session.


Library Wins State, Local Awards

Shannon Bowman-Sarkisian was selected as the winner of the Indiana Library Federation (ILF) 2019 Outstanding Library Staff Award for her work on increasing Library access for domestic violence survivors. 

After years of working in west coast bookstores and developing a specialty in rare books, Shannon is now studying to be a librarian at Indiana University and working as an Information Assistant at the Library. Shannon was awarded the Friends of the Library Pioneer Grant in February, which she used to start Creating Access for Violence Survivors (CAVS).

The CAVS project created Library protocol for Monroe County residents in hiding or transitional housing due to escaping domestic violence. It also provided training for Library staff on domestic violence and related issues, and gave Middle Way House residents access to eLibrary and digital learning tools on Library-curated iPads and Playaway tablets.

“Shannon’s commitment to improving access to the Library for survivors of domestic and sexual violence within Monroe County will make significant and lasting improvements in our community now, and in years to come,” wrote Stephanie Waller and Sarah Hunt of Middle Way House in Shannon’s nomination letter. 

I know I have said it before, but I am still so humbled by all of this, and honored to have had the opportunity to serve my community in this way,” Shannon said. “When I decided to pursue librarianship it was because I had a desire be of service. I'm grateful for all the help and support I received to bring this project to life."

The Library system itself was also chosen by its peers in the ILF community for an award. The 2019 Programming Award honors and recognizes a library system or branch of a library system that has successfully provided ongoing, innovative, and diverse programming designed to meet its community’s needs.

55,733 participants attended one of the Library’s 1,955 programs for children, teens, and adults in 2018. Areas of programming included digital creativity, book clubs, crafting, adulting, literacy, virtual reality, storytime, 3D printing, nonprofit support, inclusivity, caregiving, local & family history, theater performances, accessibility, cultural celebrations, and much more. All programs were free and open to the public.

Both awards will be given at November’s ILF annual meeting awards and honors banquet.

Finally, the Library has also been awarded the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Community Anchor Award, which recognizes a business or organization that has contributed positively to the local community over a sustained period.

The Library was nominated by the Friends of the Library, who wrote, “The Library plays a central role in facilitating the community’s aspirations for Monroe County to be an informed, accessible, and inclusive place.” The award was given at the Thursday, September 26 annual meeting of the Chamber.

The Friends of the Library supports the Library's vital role in the community and helps make programming and summer reading games possible.

Halloween Fun at the Library

Happy Halloween

It’s October––time to get ready for Halloween and all things fall with book recommendations and events for all ages!

Do you like to be scared, but just a little bit? These semi-scary stories for younger children are mostly in picture book format. A bit older? Here are some favorites for school-age children. Have a teen who likes to be spooked? Try these YA tales guaranteed to keep you up at night! Finally, these scary stories for adults contain all kinds of horror––ghosts, monsters, murderers, and even psychological horror. Turn down the lights, pull up the covers, and get your scare on! You can also find something a little more personalized with this tailored BuzzFeed quiz

Children’s and Tween Events

Gross and Creepy Slime
Create creepy glow-in-the-dark ecto slime or wonderfully disgusting pumpkin slime (made with real pumpkin guts)! Please register. Ages 7–12. Saturday, October 5, 2–3 PM, Children’s Program Room, Main Library

Paper Circuit Spookies
Create a spooky light-up jack-o-lantern or spider paper circuit decoration in this introductory circuitry program. No experience necessary. Please register. Ages 7–12. Monday, October 7, 7–8 PM, Children’s Program Room, Main Library

Storytime Extravaganza: Halloween Fun
A lively themed storytime filled with music, stories, films, and more for young children and their families. Preschool classes and other groups welcome. Please register. Ages 2–6 (younger siblings welcome). Wednesday, October 23, 10–10:45 AM, Auditorium, Main Library

Green Screen Screams
Take your Halloween costume on a test drive as you explore the fun of green screen backgrounds! Costumes strongly encouraged, but not required. Ages 7–12. Thursday, October 24, 6–7 PM, Children’s Program Room, Main Library

Teen Events

Drop-In DIY: Spooky Fake Stained Glass
Try your hand at this fun DIY project. Impress your friends and family with your amazing craft skills! Ages 12–19. Wednesday, October 9, 3:30–5 PM, The Ground Floor, Main Library, or Tuesday, October 15, 3:30–5 PM, Ellettsville Teen Space

Spooky String Art
Just in time for Halloween, create one-of-a-kind, spooky, glow-in-the-dark string art. Ages 12–19. Wednesday, October 23, 3:30–5 PM, Ellettsville Teen Space      

Trash to Treasure: Frankentoys
Drop in to make unique crafts from old junk in this upcycling series! Ages 12–19. Monday, October 28, 4–5 PM, Ellettsville Teen Space

Comics and Cookies: BYO Scary Graphic Novel
Come for the cookies, stay to share your feels. This month, it’s bring your own scary graphic novel! Ages 12–19. Tuesday, October 29, 4–5 PM, The Ground Floor, Main Library

Tuesday Crafternoon: Pumpkins
Decorate pumpkins and make cool things! Ages 12–19. Tuesday, October 29, 5:30–7:30 PM, The Ground Floor, Main Library

Spooky Movies and Crazy Costumes: Halloween in The Ground Floor
Scary movies and a costume makeup station lead up to a costume contest at 8 PM! Ages 12–19. Thursday, October 31, 5–8:30 PM, The Ground Floor, Main Library

Adult Events

Audiobook Book Club: Where the Crawdads Sing
This book club is open to anyone who prefers the listening form of reading, and especially to those who are blind or have limited vision. This month’s title, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. If you need help obtaining the audiobook, please contact Chris Jackson at cjackson [at], or (812) 349-3103. Please register. Age 18 and up. Friday, October 25, 2–3:30 PM, Program Room 2A, Main Library. Learn more about audiobooks at the Library.

Festival of Ghost Stories
Jack-o-lanterns and fresh cider set the stage for an evening of live storytelling beneath the stars. A Halloween-time tradition for over 30 years, the Festival of Ghost Stories features haunting tales of ghosts and horror that tingle the spine. Bring a lawn chair or blanket as seasoned storytellers spin their tales in the dark hollow of Bryan Park. Presented by members of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild. Recommended for adults and those age 10 & up. Friday, October 25, 7–8:30 PM, Bryan Park, 1001 S. Henderson Street (Rain Location: Auditorium, Main Library)

Dia de los Muertos/Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a tradition that celebrates life and death. Stop by to make Mexican decorative crafts, or to draw or print photos of loved ones who have passed. Crafts include colorful papel picado banners, marigold flowers, matchbox shrines, and painted skulls. All ages. Thursday, October 31, Noon–3 PM, Program Room 2B, Main Library