Library Services

The value of education, recreation and mental health stability in a jail cannot be understated. Ensuring a robust library with a broad variety of reading material is an importance piece of the services provided at the jail.

The Allegheny County Jail has a facility library that includes over 20,000 titles. Books are provided to inmates by title or general category. Each housing unit also has a library where incarcerated individuals may sign out books. Books are rotated among different housing units on a regular basis.

In October 2020, the jail added a free eBook library to the inmate tablet program that now provides more than 9,200 titles. That includes nearly 9,000 eBooks and graphic novels, and more than 240 audiobooks. The jail frequently curates and adds additional titles on an ongoing basis.

Friends and family members can also ship books through the United States Postal Service to incarcerated individuals directly from Barnes and Noble or Christian Books. Magazines and newspapers can also come through the mail and are subject to the same policies as books. You can read more about the jail’s mail policies on the Inmate Mail page.

ACJ eBook and Audiobook Numbers

Incarcerated individuals may check out eBooks and audiobooks through the ACJ digital library on their tablets.

Holds are placed by incarcerated individuals on eBooks or audiobooks that are checked out already. Individuals may keep an eBook or audiobook checked out for up to seven days.

Month Users eBook Checkouts eBook Holds Audiobook Checkouts Audiobook Holds
April 1,098 14,111 1,334 932 165
May 1,129 15,309 1,497 1,053 181

Harper Announces Deployment of OverDrive eBook Library on Inmate Tablets(PDF, 129KB) (March 24, 2021)

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are free books located on the inmate tablets?

Once an incarcerated individual is signed into the tablet, he or she may go to the “Free” tab. From there, the incarcerated individual clicks on “Books,” and it takes them to a listing of nearly 9,000 eBooks and graphic novels, and 240 audiobooks. For Religious books, inmates click on "Religious Library" to get to the listing of books.

How many religious books are available?

At this time, 244 books are available. The Allegheny County Jail is working on adding additional titles. 

What religious books are available to incarcerated individuals?

How many other books are available?

At this time, nearly 9,000 eBooks and graphic novels, and 240 audiobooks are available. Allegheny County Jail is always working on adding additional titles. 

What other books are available?

When will new books become available on the tablets?

We are always looking at new titles to add through our partnership with OverDrive. We take inmate requests into consideration and the library is updated frequently.

Are there physical books available inside the Allegheny County Jail?

There is an ACJ library that already includes over 20,000 books. Incarcerated individuals may request books by title or general category. Each housing unit at the ACJ also has a library where incarcerated individuals may sign out books. Books are rotated on and off of the housing units from a central location.

Can books be donated to the Allegheny County Jail?

The Allegheny County Jail only accepts paperback books during designated book drives. Those wishing to donate to the facility may inquire with HOPE Chaplaincy Services at 412-350-2057 or jailchaplains@alleghenycounty.us.