Seminary Co-op Bookstore plans week of events, culminating with grand opening on May 11

Award-winning author Aleksandar Hemon will deliver the keynote address at the grand opening celebration for the Seminary Co-operative Bookstore on Saturday, May 11.

Hemon, author of The Lazarus Project, Love and Obstacles, and The Book of My Lives, will speak at 3 p.m. Other events include bookmaking demonstrations, a session on picture books with children's authors from Hyde Park, including young adult author Elizabeth Fama, and a book signing with some of the many authors who are members of the Seminary Co-op. Visit here to see the live webcast of Hemon's talk at 3 p.m. 

The grand opening takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and celebrates the Co-op’s relocation from its original basement location to newly renovated space in McGiffert House, 5751 S. Woodlawn Ave., in November 2012. 

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to celebrate not only our move into this wonderful new space, but also the unprecedented and genuinely enthusiastic support given by the University of Chicago to make this move possible,” said Co-op general manager Jack Cella. “We also owe our gratitude to the community of readers and writers who have patronized our bookstores for over half a century and have made everything we do possible with their loyalty, suggestions, and membership in the Co-operative.”

The grand opening celebration is the culmination of a week of events in honor of the Co-op. The Co-op will host a release party for the spring issue of Critical Inquiry on Wednesday, May 8.

On Friday, May 10, Jasmine Kwong, AB’06, and Megan E. Doherty, AM'05, PhD’10, will discuss the Seminary Co-op Documentary Project, which examines the Co-op bookstore through photography, oral and written testimony, videography, artifacts and memorabilia. The project will be on view at the Regenstein Library's Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery from April 22 to July 13.

A beloved Hyde Park institution and nationally respected bookseller, the Co-op spent more than 50 years in its original location at 5757 S. University before moving to a new 8,900-square-foot space in the basement and first floor of McGiffert House.

The new location is better suited to hold events and signings, increase offerings in the sciences and non-English books, and accommodate customers at peak times in the academic year. Chicago-based Tigerman McCurry Architects also worked closely with the bookstore to preserve the serendipity and cozy browsing experience of the basement location. 

The Chicago Theological Seminary sold both the 5757 S. University Ave. building and McGiffert House to the University in 2008. The Seminary moved in early 2012 to a new building at 60th Street and Dorchester Avenue. The University selected Ann Beha Architects to carry out the renovation and adaptive re-use of the building at 5757 S. University Ave., which will become new space for the Department of Economics and the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. The University funded the renovation of McGiffert House and the Seminary Co-op’s relocation.

The Seminary Co-op Bookstore opened in 1961 with 17 members. It now has 54,000 member-owners and two branch stores—57th Street Books and the Newberry Library Bookstore.