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Letters to WIP

To our WIP readers:

[Ed note:  This is a letter from Michael Foster, valve-turner imprisoned at the Missouri River Correctional Center, reprinted from #SHUTITDOWN]

I’m the new afternoon librarian, and the library needs Love!! The collection here at The Farm is barely a collection. Interlibrary Loans have been suspended probably indefinitely, and the titles to browse here are super-limited. It’s a small one–room space with the newspapers, magazines, a table and shelves lining the back half and the walls. Almost every one of those shelves have lots of empty space for any topic. The library gets a high amount of use considering it serves less than 200 inmates preparing for life after incarceration.

This is what came off my request list at the library in one week:

More autobiographies

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the I-Ching by Joseph Wu

James Rollins

Zecharia Sitchen

Bo Lozoff

Napoleon Hill

David Wilcock—The Synchronicity Key

AC Ross Mitakuye Oyasin

“Street Hypnosis”

Song lyric writing

How to drawlife-like portraits

National Geographic Magazine

Science magazines

Start thinking about books you loved, books that shaped you, stories that mattered and helped you be more you: nature, environmental connection, love of the outdoors, empathy, friendship, family addictions, recovery, mental illness and health, behavior change, inspirational people, overcoming obstacles, prison life, prison ashram project (Bo Lozoff), prison reform, racism, classism, corporate control, corporate media, healthy living of any and all kinds.

A fiction book I checked out back at the Pen library, The Kite Runner, checked a lot of boxes in terms of a book prisoners might read and grow from. Yesterday somebody checked out The Purpose Driven Life. I haven’t read it, but that seems like an interesting choice. Most popular and good supply of the following: full shelves of James Patterson and Stephen King, fantasy series, Star Wars, fitness books, workout, and How to Draw books.

The librarian and the warden seem determined to destroy books that are not mailed in properly directly from a distributor. I can’t seem to get them to agree to send out improperly mailed books to the public library or Goodwill. So far they really want them in the dumpster.

So I can’t emphasize enough that books, new or used, ordered online MUST have an actual bookseller as the return address. It is possible some people might use a bookseller business name on Amazon, but when they physically mail the package they put their own name and address.

When people send letters and books, PLEASE be careful to mail PROPERLY so that it is not destroyed. I get at least one item per day DENIED for having two pieces of paper glued together (Hallmark cards), or not giving a full name and return address. I can often request a photocopy made of some materials, but not all.

Meanwhile, I will keep working on the staff here to adjust their security policy just enough so that books, which they sorely need, get donated somehow either onsite or off, not “destroyed” for security reasons.

To make sure books aren’t rejected and destroyed, books:

Must be sent via USPS.

Must be sent via reputable publishers/booksellers (i.e. not independent sellers who work through, for example, Amazon. The book must be bought and shipped from Amazon the monolith, not a mom n’ pop seller operating on their platform…). Check out Powell’s as an alternative to Amazon.

Now may be used and either paper or hardback!  Just make sure they are clearly sent by a reputable book seller.  Thrift Books and Better World Books both have good bargains and use their own plastic envelopes with bookseller name all over them.

Do not send more than 3 books at a time.

A return address is mandatory, and must be the address of a bookseller, not an individual.

Have bookseller mail three books only, via usps only:

Michael Foster, #51974
Missouri River Correctional Center
P.O. Box 5521
Bismarck, nd 58506

Reprinted from #SHUTITDOWN (



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