LIT was founded in 2002 by a visionary New York City teacher named Rebecca Howlett, who recognized that the literacy needs of detained and incarcerated youth are intertwined with their lack of access to libraries and reading facilities.
Rebecca also saw that we cannot address illiteracy and provide the motivation to read without also providing physical libraries. LIT functioned under the nonprofit sponsorship of a sister organization, the Prisoners’ Reading Encouragement Project (PREP) from 2003 until 2009, when LIT was incorporated as a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization. LIT partners with City and State agency stakeholders invested in juvenile justice and education. LIT sustains collection development practices that provide books and literacy resources appropriate for school libraries and young adult readers. LIT also ensures physical space (from shelves to desks to furniture) for school libraries within detention and secure residential settings.