Love of Reading Doesn’t End With Second Chapter

Seasonal bookstore run by Friends of the UP Library returns to Snider Plaza

What started as a COVID-era fundraiser has become an anticipated annual event in Snider Plaza. 

Now in its fourth year, the University Park Public Library’s Second Chapter pop-up bookstore has sprouted at 3412 Rosedale, next to Ben’s Cookies.

“During the height of COVID, everything shut down, including the library,” recalled Michael Gerstle, past president of Friends of the UP Library. “But what didn’t stop is people had tons of books.”

The pop-up first opened in September 2020 with many COVID restrictions and turned out to be a huge success, Gerstle said.

“People in this community love to read,” noted Katharine Friguletto, Friends of the UP Library book sales chair and Second Chapter manager. “The corpus of our volunteers in the store were moms who had time during the day and children who loved the library, and they themselves liked to read. As much as we want to raise money for the library, we also want to be a great community space.”

Gerstle explained how the store is uniquely entirely volunteer-run.

“We really work off the backs of volunteers who sign up for shifts,” Gerstle said. “We have a huge back office where volunteers sort books, and the city has graciously given us space at their Peek Service Center to store all those books. We’re able to turn all this around and sponsor things like summer reading programs for kids and adults.”

Since 2020, the first year that book sales generated substantial revenue for Friends, earnings have exceeded a $100,000 in the combination of the store, one-day book sales, and an online partner. Friends leaders estimate they’ve handled over 60,000 books since they started taking donations. 

“The community is really happy to donate their books,” Friguletto said. “A lot of other nonprofits don’t even take books anymore. We also partner with the city at the biannual recycling event. Outside of a vintage book, you won’t find anything in the store over $5.” 

Second Chapter community outreach has expanded to include the University Park Fire Department and cooking and art programs. In past incarnations, Zen Art & Music students have helped with store design, and this year, high school students helped with photography and in-store art.

“This time, we’re going to expand and talk to some of the local book clubs,” Friguletto said. “We’re always trying new things and open to new ideas. A lot of the ideas come from the community.”

Gerstle recalled hearing from an older woman shopping in the store.

“Her comment was how grateful she was that this space existed because she just enjoyed the interaction with people who love books,” Gerstle said. “That’s the kind of community impact that this store has had, even more valuable than the money it raises.”

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