Please note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and in accordance with social distancing recommendations, NYC Books Through Bars is suspending volunteer sessions as of March 12 in order to protect the health of our communities. This is a difficult decision, as it will reduce our ability to send books to incarcerated people at a time they may need them most. Some of our collective members will try to fulfill requests as best we’re able until volunteer sessions can resume. We are mindful of the special risk that COVID-19 presents for people who are locked up and hope you will follow us on social media for ways to advocate in solidarity during this time. We will share updates when we have any via social media and our website.
We are at Freebird Bookstore, opening letters, choosing books, and packing them, during the following times:
* Mondays from 7:30pm-9:30pm
* Sundays from 2:00pm-5:00pm
* Some Wednesdays from 7pm-9pm (to see which Wednesdays we’re meeting this month, view our event calendar here)
First-time volunteers: no need to call ahead, just come by at the start of a session. That’s when we offer a brief orientation. Once you’ve done that, you can stay for however long you’d like and come at any time during future sessions. It’s greatly appreciated when volunteers can bring heavier paper bags—these are great for packaging books. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have good bags for this purpose.
- Unfortunately we cannot accommodate young people under the age of 18 even with parental/adult supervision.
- We cannot accommodate service groups or students seeking service learning hours through universities during our regular packing sessions. To arrange a special packing session for a group, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Our stock library and main workspace is only reachable by stairs, which are narrow;
- The ceilings in the workspace downstairs are low;
- The basement is unfinished and the space can be dusty;
- The basement is unheated and there is no a/c year-round;
- Volunteering usually requires being on your feet downstairs, but there are some tasks that can be done stationary in the bookstore upstairs. Please contact us if you have any concerns about whether we can accommodate your needs at a volunteer session.
Freebird is located at 123 Columbia Street between Kane and Degraw, in Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. From the Bergen F/G stop, or the Borough Hall 4 /5 stop, walk along Court Street to Kane, then down Kane to Columbia. Or take the B61 bus to Freebird’s front door – the B61 goes directly to and from the Jay St.-Metrotech stop (A, C, F, and R trains) and is a 10-15 min. ride (and a free transfer). The B61 stop is on Jay St. in front of Duane Reade.
During our Monday and Wednesday packing sessions, Freebird is not open, so we use the basement hatch to enter Books Through Bars’ space. In the colder months, the basement hatch may be closed, although the bottomliner and other volunteers are inside. Unless clearly stated on our Facebook and Twitter that we are cancelled or the time has changed, we are operating. Please knock on the hatch to enter.