A small amount of the books donated will go directly into Prison Book Collective’s library, but they have specific demands for books that aren’t often donated. To meet these demands, they’ll use the proceeds from the book sale to buy books instead of keeping the exact books donated.
Ivy Shelton, a Prison Books volunteer who picks up the donated books, said she’s happy with the books she’s seen collected so far.
“We’ve gotten some great, current novels and some used textbooks that I think will be great for the book sale,” she said.
One genre that the group is always asking for is dictionaries. Roytburd said there’s always a high demand and a low supply when it comes to dictionaries, and that’s why you get two scoops for donating them.
This partnership between Prison Books and Ben & Jerry’s didn’t just begin recently, however. Anna LaRocco Masi, marketing director for multiple Ben & Jerry’s stores, said they first sought a partnership with Prison Books over a year ago.
“I found them by simply a Google search in which I was looking at organizations that deal with social justice work and organizations that deal with racial equity in the triangle,” she said.
Ben & Jerry’s stood out to Prison Books due to their similar missions rooted in social justice. Roytburd said that Ben & Jerry’s is Fair Chance Business Certified by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice meaning that they don’t discriminate when hiring against those with criminal records.
Prison Books Collective has had two benefit nights at Ben & Jerry’s and another book drive since the beginning of their partnership. LaRocco Masi said the book drive last year was really successful, and that they’re hoping this one will be too.
“We don’t have a numerical goal,” she said, “but just spreading the word not only about bringing in books but also spreading the word about what Prison Books does.”
Shelton said Ben & Jerry’s has been a big supporter for Prison Books. The group is looking at dates in late April to do another benefit night at Ben & Jerry’s where a portion of the proceeds will go to Prison Books Collective.
As for the current promotion, there’s still 15 days to trade in books for ice cream. LaRocco Masi said that having these books donated is really important for prisoners to show that people on the outside care.
“And you can come get free ice cream, so it’s not a bad deal at all,” she said.