Rikers Island Opens Its First Ever Permanent Public Library

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After more than eight decades of operation, the Rikers Island Correctional Facility has opened its first ever permanent public library. Located inside the Rose M. Singer Center for women, the library has been dubbed the unofficial 93rd branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) system, and will open for six hours every Tuesday, AM New York reports.

The new permanent library, which replaces previous book cart distribution programs that had been in place since the 1980s, features an inventory of 1200 books. Inmates can check out two books for up to two weeks from the expansive collection, which incorporates titles from several genres and languages, including popular books like The Hunger Games and To Kill a Mockingbird.

At an event celebrating the library's opening day, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and former Rikers Island inmate-turned-author Rayya Elias handed out signed copies of their books and spoke with the women.

"Everyone is always welcomed at the library," NYPL President Tony Marx said. "Free books, free use of computers, educational programs ... We do not want people locked up. We want everyone—everyone—to have the opportunity to read, to learn, to create, to gain skills and to contribute."

[h/t AM New York]

Images via Craig Ruttle on Instagram

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