BETHANY, W.Va. – The Bethany College Writers Club recently collected reading materials for the Appalachian Prison Book Project.

In November and December, the students and their advisers Travis Straub and Dr. Jessie Janeshek, collected several boxes of paperback books ranging from popular fiction to educational publications that will be delivered to the nonprofit over the college’s Christmas break.

Janeshek is an associate professor of English and Straub is an assistant professor in the same department.

Writers Club president Nativa O’Brien said the group was also donating $250 toward purchasing books from the Appalachian Prison Book Project’s wish list.

Since its inception in 2004, the Appalachian Prison Book Project has mailed more than 30,000 free books to more than 200 facilities in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland. The outreach also leads book clubs in men’s and women’s facilities.

For O’Brien, the restorative and rehabilitative aspects of the project are what makes the Appalachian Prison Book Project such an important cause.

“Not only do they collect book donations to mail to Appalachian prisons, but they also facilitate prison book clubs and offer college courses, valuing education as a basic human right that can work against the negative effects of mass incarceration in this country,” O’Brien said.

“That’s what makes this program so important to me: This organization sees that those who are incarcerated are still human beings who want to read and to learn.”

Straub, who will deliver the books to Morgantown, said the Writers Club plans to collect books a few times each year.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.