DOCCS General Library Program offers library services and programs in a manner similar to those offered by public libraries in the community.

Senior Librarians select library materials based on a systematic selection process designed to determine and meet library service standards and educational, informational, vocational, recreational, and re-entry needs of the facility incarcerated population.

Library materials may include, but not be limited to:

  • Reference collections
  • Books
  • Periodicals
  • Foreign Languages
  • Large Print
  • High Interest-Low Reading Level
  • Graphic Novels
  • Pamphlets
  • Videos
  • Audio Books
  • Mixed Media Resources
  • DVDs

Reading materials are also available for new readers or those monolingual in Spanish or other languages. Most libraries have subscriptions to popular magazines and several hometown newspapers.

General Libraries also offer resources and services that support and enhance the Department’s other programs, including Academic Education, Transitional Services, Guidance and Counseling, and Substance Abuse Treatment.

A DOCCS facility General Library is affiliated with that region's public library system. Through these networks, incarcerated individuals and staff are afforded the inter-library loan of books, periodicals, videos and other media.

DOCCS also cooperates with the New York State Library to provide Talking Book and Braille (TBBL) to those who qualify.

Facility libraries are staffed by licensed, professional librarians and may also have civilian library clerks. Most libraries employ incarcerated clerks [with a HSE or high school diploma] who work in entry level jobs to high level clerical positions. Titles assigned include Administrative Clerk, Library Assistant, General Clerk, and Clerk Typist. They may perform library clerical functions and technical processes while they obtain valuable skills that expand their career options upon release.


Department Directive 4470, "General Library Services," establishes guidelines for the operation of this program.

DOCCS' General Library Program has four goals:

  1. To meet the educational, informational, recreational needs and re-entry of the incarcerated population.
  2. To encourage incarcerated individuals’ self-awareness and personal growth by offering library programming.
  3. To demonstrate and promote the value of library use so that incarcerated individuals will be able to make effective use of public libraries upon their return to the community.
  4. To train incarcerated individuals as effective library support workers, capable of undertaking a variety of appropriately supervised library tasks, and providing them with marketable skills upon their release.

Admission Requirements

All incarcerated individuals in general confinement facilities are eligible for library services. Those not permitted to visit a facility’s General Library Program because of their disciplinary or protective custody status or their health receive outreach services from the General Library.


Most correctional facilities offer a General Library Program. Individuals are assigned to Work Release facilities may avail themselves of public library services in the community.