The Clearwater Public Library System Wins Florida
Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Award
The Clearwater Public Library System’s prison letter
program recently was recognized by the Florida
Library Association with its annual Intellectual
Freedom Award. This award recognizes an
organization that has made a significant contribution to
increasing access to the intellectual content of print and nonprint
The purpose of the program is to provide increased access
to information for incarcerated Floridians. Each month, a
team of librarians receives and answers letters from inmates
using library resources and that follow Florida Department
of Corrections rules.
What started with a handful of letters from one prison has,
in the last four years, grown significantly to approximately
70 letters per month from more than 35 state correctional
facilities. The program’s impact continues to grow by wordof
mouth among inmates.
Library administrators have presented this program to
both local and statewide colleagues, and these efforts have
raised awareness about the lack of access to information
within Florida’s large population of incarcerated persons.
The Clearwater Public Library System believes that the
core values of intellectual freedom and librarianship should
benefit all Floridians.
Because of the increasing volume of letters, the library
has recruited other member libraries within the county
cooperative to help answer letters. Participating libraries
include Dunedin, Largo, and Safety Harbor.