Open Books, a literacy nonprofit that runs full-service bookstores featuring donated, remaindered and new books, launched its third community bookshop earlier this week, at 2068 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. Open Books also operates stores in Pilsen and in the West Loop.
"After over a year of planning and building we are so excited to finally be able to welcome you all in. We've got a truly incredible selection of used books as well as a small but mighty selection of new ones," Open Books noted on Facebook.
"In the wake of the pandemic, we continue to track the dearth of affordable bookstores and in-person community spaces in Chicago--and also recognized that hundreds of our book donors reside in and around the Logan Square community," said executive director Eric Johnson. "This new store represents an opportunity to not only provide Logan Square access to a broad array of titles, but to encourage another diverse area of the city to support our community-driven literacy work."
Located on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue that has long endured shuttered storefronts and vacant buildings, the new location is expected to help revitalize a part of Logan Square hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Open Books has started to bring back readings, poetry slams and book fairs to its West Loop and Pilsen locations. The Logan Square store will house its most versatile event space to date, allowing the organization to increase its offerings for the community.
Founded in 2006, Open Books is designed to foster literacy and encourage reading among thousands of Chicago children and families. By selling donated books to community members, the organization can fund neighborhood reading and writing support programs, free book grants, and affordable access to books for underserved and historically marginalized residents, schools and nonprofit partners.
"As purchasing behavior migrated online during the lockdown and shipping information on Open Books customers began to roll in, we realized how crucial the residents of the 'Blue Line Corridor' were to our organization. Logan Square's rich diversity, passionate community members, and longstanding Open Books supporters make it an excellent next step for pursuing our literacy goals," Johnson said.
"Independent bookstores are the lifeblood of a community," 1st Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata added. "They are spaces for discourse, for curiosity, for connection. Milwaukee Avenue in Logan Square has been longing for a space like Open Books for a while--and we are excited to welcome them to the neighborhood."