Faculty and Staff Support ‘Books Behind Bars Project’

Thursday, December 2, 2021

A Message from Wendy Givoglu, Interim President, East and Winter Park Campuses

Librarians Erich Heintzelman and Chris Wettstein are working with Professors of English Nicholas DeArmas, Tamara Madison, Susan Dauer and Shea Faulkner by providing donated books for the “Books Behind Bars Project,” an extension of the Florida Prison Education Project (FPEP). This University of Central Florida initiative provides educational opportunities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in Florida.

The East Campus Library provided an initial donation of just over 250 books. Various faculty on campus, the Humanities department, alumni and students have also donated a wide range of selections to the project. Plans are underway to drop the donations by the end of the year, and plans for additional donations are underway.

Currently, in its second year, this book donation program supports the East Campus Communications Department goal “to better support the incarcerated population.” While the first year was impacted by pandemic and social distancing protocols that slowed down the ability to collect books in person, it provided time and opportunities for outreach to libraries and colleagues interested in donating.

Having taught inside the prisons as part of FPEP, Nicholas discussed with his colleagues the idea to support the “Books Behind Bars Project.”

“To assume that the incarcerated population we never see does not extend into our classrooms is not true, as our students are often system-impacted by their relationship to family and friends who are incarcerated,” Nicholas stated. “By providing incarcerated students with not only educational materials and supplies but our efforts and our recognition, we reinforce that they still have value, that they still have something meaningful to contribute and that they can have purpose.”

Left: Aaron Parrilla, staff assistant I

The book drive will continue into next year, beyond the preliminary donation to FPEP. For more information on how you can help or to donate books, please contact Nicholas at ndearmas1@valenciacollege.edu.

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