The Local Look: Open Books

In today’s Local Look, we showcase Open Books, a nonprofit that uses proceeds from book sales to provide classes, workshops, field trips, book grants and more to thousands of children every year.  Started in 2006, Open Books now operates two bookstores: One in Pilsen and one in River North at their headquarters.

Open Books’ Pilsen location is a haven for book mavens. Photo credit: Open Books

Why did you choose Chicago?  Tell us about what it means to be a business in Chicago.

Our goal is to provide literacy enrichment and intervention to all in need in Chicago. Given the challenges that many Chicagoans face concerning education, we want to positively impact the city, changing it for the better. Both the nonprofit and literary communities in Chicago are collections of mighty people working to better their world, and we are so glad to be a part of them both. Chicago’s systemic literacy issues provide us with plenty of areas to provide support, but its fraternity among groups means we are one group among many addressing the need.

If you could go back in time before you became involved in running the business and share one piece of advice with yourself, what would you tell yourself?

Ask for more. People are incredibly gracious with their time and energy, and it’s amazing what volunteers and supporters are willing to do for a cause they love.

What are your next steps?

In late May, Open Books will move into a brand new location at 651 W. Lake St. as part of the Chicago Literacy Alliance’s Literacenter. With even more shelf space, a dedicated youth section and brand new classrooms and offices, we’ll be even better fitted to help shoppers find their next favorite book and students realize their literary dreams. Starting in June, we will be hosting regular events in our new space in the West Loop, with an official launch party in September.

We want to be in the know!  Name one person, place or thing that you think is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets—a secret until now, of course.

People should know about the Ink & Blood Writing Duels we host in our store. These are incredible events designed by local Chicagoans who are fostering a love of writing and deadly combat. We’d also like to spotlight Hooray Learning, a new education startup that just came out of 1871’s Impact Engine.

Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

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