Open Books is expanding into Logan Square, selling used books to give back

Cookbooks, uncommon books and the odd little bit of fiction stuffed clients’ arms in the course of the first week at Open Books’ new Logan Sq. location.

A nonprofit group devoted to youngsters’s literacy, Open Books operates three shops and a web-based storefront to fund free books for youngsters and school rooms throughout town.

The storefront opened at 2068 Milwaukee Ave. On January 18th. Logan Sq. residents had been enthusiastic clients, bringing in tens of hundreds of {dollars} within the first week, mentioned Eric Johnson, CEO of Open Books.

“I advised my workers that the response we had inside the first week was one thing I’d count on after a number of weeks,” Johnson mentioned.

With enlargement, Open Books has turn out to be the most important used bookstore chain within the metropolis. The nonprofit maintains shops within the West Loop and Pilsen, in addition to a vacation pop-up store in Ukrainian Village.

Johnson mentioned Logan Sq. is already residence to many longtime guide donors.

“Persons are merely thrilled that we’re round,” Johnson mentioned. “These are mates each new and outdated.”

With Logan Sq. up and operating, Open Books now holds about 70,000 books. Most of it’s donated, Johnson mentioned, however workers generally purchase outsized books to accommodate the assorted choices in shops.

The group usually purchases youngsters’s books that characteristic Black and Latino characters or are written by Black and Latino authors.

“After we give away free books to youngsters and their households, these books want to have the ability to communicate to these youngsters and households,” Johnson mentioned.

Open Books funds youth literacy packages with the shop’s income. Johnson mentioned the impression of the books purchased in Logan Sq. is being felt in Austin, Garfield Park, and the faculties on the South Facet.

“We usually goal to put our packages in neighborhoods which have been traditionally deprived and marginalized,” Johnson mentioned. “By means of poverty and, most significantly, a common lack of sources and entry to sources.”

About 200 youngsters throughout Chicago attend after-school packages hosted by Open Books. The group additionally companions with Dolly Parton’s Fantasy Library Sending a free guide to youngsters each month from beginning to 5 years outdated.

Within the retailer, books promote for between $1 and $10, with a restricted number of uncommon books for $25 to $100.

Earlier than transferring into the 4,000-square-foot storefront, the carpenters put in a toilet, again staircase, 130 bookcases, and reception desks. Native artist Nick “Sick” Fisher painted a mural on the entrance of the constructing.

Johnson mentioned renovation prices got here within the “larger 5 figures, decrease six figures”.

Open Books located at 2068 North Milwaukee in the Logan Square neighborhood, Thursday, January 26, 2023.

Carpenters put in roughly 130 bookshelves within the 4,000-square-foot Open Books retailer forward of opening day on Jan. 18.

Tyler Basquiak Lariviere/Solar Occasions

Open Books workers and volunteers have hosted poetry contests, guide festivals, and readings within the West Loop and Pilsen. Johnson mentioned comparable occasions can be held on the Logan Sq. retailer.

Johnson and the Logan Sq. Chamber of Commerce additionally hope the storefront will improve foot visitors to Milwaukee Avenue. Johnson mentioned many storefronts close to Open Books are empty.

“Unbiased bookstores are the lifeblood of the group,” Ald. Daniel Sabata (I) mentioned in an announcement. “Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Sq. has been eager for an area like Open Books for some time.”

Previous to opening day, Open Books hosted pop-up bookstores exterior of Logan Sq. companies together with Revolution Brewing, Consolation Station, Middlebrow, and Rattling High quality Espresso.

Because the library continues to endear itself to Logan Sq., Johnson plans to maneuver a few of the donation containers elsewhere, increasing Open Books’ attain.

“We could not be happier with the selection we made,” Johnson mentioned. “And we simply count on that this specific bar that we have set it in will proceed to thrive.”

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