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Prison Education

NPEP Library

The NPEP Library at Northwestern University Libraries supports the educational mission and activities of the Northwestern Prison Education Project (NPEP) by enabling access to research materials and consultations with librarians, strengthening our collections in social justice, creating and providing informational literacy resources, extending our suite of services to incarcerated students, and applying the ethics of librarianship to advocate for alternatives to policing, surveillance, and incarceration.


Research Support
We provide research and reference support for incarcerated students via correspondence and in-person consultations, enabling access to library resources such as scholarly books and articles, encyclopedia entries, poetry and artwork, case law, news stories, websites, and much more. This work is mostly facilitated through student access to our Research Request Form which you can download, view, and feel free to adapt.

Information Literacy
We provide in-person and correspondence-based instruction to incarcerated students on issues of information literacy—from understanding the internet to academic research—and work with instructors and tutors to create accessible guides and printable resources for NPEP courses.

Open Education Resources
We provide support and funding for the development of open educational resources (OER) from researching and recommending OER across all disciplines to collaborating on the production of original OER through the Affordable Instructional Resources initiative.

Digital Publishing
We provide the infrastructure and expertise in digital publishing initiatives to support the art and writing of incarcerated students including a forthcoming online journal dedicated to the creative writing, art, and other works of incarcerated students at both Stateville and Logan Correctional Centers.

Collection Development
We provide the selection of and access to publications and special collections dedicated to social justice relevant across all disciplines, the voices of the currently and formerly incarcerated, research on policing and prisons,  and new and future works on restorative, transformative, and community-based approaches to safety and justice.

Prison Library Resources


The UPEP Library supports the students of the Undergraduate Prison Education Program (UPEP), an initiative that cultivates collaboration between Evanston undergraduates and students in the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP) through prison education initiatives. These initiatives include events, tutoring, workshops, classes, awareness and advocacy campaigns in Evanston, supplies drives, and fundraising events supporting prison education. UPEP’s mission is to bring awareness about mass incarceration and education in the correctional system to the broader Northwestern community, and members also run a Peer Mentorship Program at Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities.

UPEP students supporting incarcerated students and learners can reach out to Josh Honn at to set up a research consultation, request a book or ebook purchase for the collection, information literacy support, and to connect with other library resources. A few helpful resources for UPEP volunteers include:

  • Start Your Research
    A comprehensive step-by-step guide to the scholarly research process, including everything from finding to citing sources and more.

  • Subject Librarians
    Find a librarian who specializes in the area of research you are working in.


Thank you to the many library workers across the profession who have been doing and continue to grow this work. We would especially like to thank Dr. Jeanie Austin, whose work and writing in this area has been foundational and inspirational; our colleagues at Jackson College Library, whose support for the Jackson College Corrections Education Program deeply informed many of our services; and the NPEP Graduate Student Advisory Committee for all of their support in helping to get this project off the ground.