Reference by Mail

Reference by Mail

A Service for Library Users Who Are Incarcerated

Sacramento Public Library Reference by Mail Service staff are happy to answer your reference questions. In order to offer you the best service possible, we ask that you follow Rules and Guidelines below.

Sacramento Public Library
Attn: Reference by Mail
828 I Street, Sacramento CA 95814

1. We will respond to a maximum of two (2) letters per sender, per month, with a maximum of three (3) questions per letter. Questions will be answered in the order they are written. Additional letters will not be returned, and additional questions will not be answered. You may experience a delay in receiving a reply; we appreciate your patience. Please do not send the same question more than once. Please do not send original documents you want returned.

2. We will respond with a maximum of ten (10) double-sided pages of information at a time. As a result, we may not be able to send all of the information you request. Due to limitations on staff time, we will send a maximum of 20 images per response. Images will not be searched using specific qualifiers, such as sexy, bikini, lingerie. Images will not be sent of anyone under 18 years old.

3. We will:
a) provide a list of pen pal organizations upon request;
b) send contact information for celebrities, politicians, and other public figures upon request;
c) provide contact information for organizations from which you can request books, magazines, newspapers, etc. upon request.

4. We will not send legal or medical advice or opinions of any kind. We will provide standard definitions of legal words and phrases, documented information on codes, regulations, Supreme Court decisions, etc., when requested by specific name or code number only. We will provide basic overviews of medical diagnoses (symptoms, tests, treatments, etc.) when requested by specific name only.

5. We will not:
a) contact a third party for you;
b) send mail or correspondence on your behalf;
c) act as a pen pal or contact a pen pal service for you;
d) send any adult materials, including images, artwork, text, or the name of companies that produce adult materials; e) retrieve information or images from social media accounts;
f) send information promoting or portraying violence or the use of weapons, including lists or images of weapons or ammunition, or any information pertaining to acquiring weapons;
g) send directions or maps (except for maps of constellations or fictional worlds);
h) send information about fictional or coded languages (ex: Klingon, Elvish, etc.);
i) send contact information for private individuals, nor do we perform internet searches about private individuals;
j) perform searches for the patron about themselves or other inmates (if searching for information on a crime reveals the patron was convicted, we will not send this information or relevant images); k) send responses to non-carceral facility addresses.

6. If any part of your letter requests prohibited information or violates the Rules and Guidelines, no part of the letter will be answered or returned. Three (3) requests for prohibited information (or three (3) violations of the Rules and Guidelines) will result in being restricted from receiving replies from the Sacramento Public Library Reference by Mail Service for a minimum of three months. Continued requests of this nature will result in longer periods of restriction, up to and including permanent ban.

7. Regarding materials for which copyright is a concern, we can send copied pages of up to a maximum of 10 double-sided pages; we reserve the right to impose a lower limit on number of pages sent. Please be advised that these materials are intended to be used for Fair Use purposes only and anything beyond that use is up to the requestor to clear with the copyright holder. The law states:

Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be ‘‘used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.’’ If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of ‘‘fair use,’’ that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law. (c) Form and manner of use.
(1) A Display Warning of Copyright shall be printed on heavy paper or other durable material in type at least 18 points in size, and shall be displayed prominently, in such manner and location as to be clearly visible, legible, and comprehensible to a casual observer within the immediate vicinity of the place where orders are accepted.
(2) An Order Warning of Copyright shall be printed within a box located prominently on the order form itself, either on the front side of the form or immediately adjacent to the space calling for the name or signature of the person using the form. The notice shall be printed in type size no smaller than that used predominantly throughout the form, and in no case shall the type size be smaller than 8 points. The notice shall be printed in such manner as to be clearly legible, comprehensible, and readily apparent to a casual reader of the form.

Rev: 8/29/2023