During the plague, I took many, A lot Hobby. In addition to the usual baking, gardening, and crafting, I’m back to teaching in a big way. Not only that, but since I was a graduate and had leisure time, I decided to volunteer at my local anarchist bookstore. I am very lucky to have this opportunity, because I have enjoyed getting to know other members of the group. I learned a lot, radicalized my thinking, and got to know my community in a new way.
Of course, another bonus is lots of cheap and free books. Not to mention all the friends I made along the way!
Introduction to the book Spartacus
Spartacus Books is a local collection of my city with a complex history. It’s a non-profit, volunteer-driven bookstore that specializes in anarchism and creates a working space in our community. We carry LGBTQ + studies and enlightenment, indigenous studies and enlightenment, socialist theory, ecology, poetry, graphic novels, children’s books, radical fiction and much more.
In addition, we have a mini library, seating area, a free usable computer and free WiFi. We give local authors a place to sell their books and zines on shipments and give us space for local events (not epidemics, of course). We also carry naloxone kits, an important service in our neighborhood.
History of the bookstore
Spartacus was launched in 1973 and is one of the oldest joint-operated bookstores in North America. It was started by Roger Perkins, a bookstore member at a local university. The original name was Spartacus Socialist Education Society. The main order of the aggregate was to distribute reading materials which were otherwise difficult to obtain. The store shared a pool hall with the American Excels Association.
After a while, the store moved to its downtown where it had been for 30 years. A fire in 2004 completely destroyed the store, including all its stocks, as well as handwritten journals accounting for the store’s history. Over the next two years, with the efforts and generous donations of the combined members, the store was able to reopen. It has been getting stronger ever since.
In the last few years, the politics of the shop have completely shifted away from male-dominated anarchism. It is now more diverse, strongly anti-capitalist, broadly isolated, and non-classified.
I joined jointly when the store was in the previous location (a few blocks from my house). Until February 2022, we are in a big place now. The move itself was a little stressful. However, the best part of our new location is that people are happy to see us in a more accessible place. In addition, the new foot is nothing to sniff at traffic.
What is it like today?
At the moment, I volunteer once a week and choose other shifts when I can. In a typical shift, I usually work at the cash register, receive and stock products, talk to customers and tidy up. I work in the evenings when it’s quiet, so I usually put on relaxing music and read a book if there’s nothing else to do. I can’t count the amount of graphic novels I’ve read while on shift.
Holds regular meetings to discuss store, event and store policy collectively. Although we are unclassified, some joint members will take steps to run small projects. I haven’t been able to run one on my own yet (though I hope sometime!)
Naturally, politics and ideology are a huge priority. We all care a lot about ethics, and always try to welcome both the shop and the joint. It is an ever-evolving and never-ending work. However, this is one that we are glad to accept.
The future of the Spartacus bookstore
However, what is the future? This is a good question.
For now, the bookstore has been in its new location for only a month or so. We have big plans for our new location, as well as high expectations for upcoming events We are working on the signage of our new building as well as more resources for joint members. The store is in the process of expanding its collection and the shelves are bursting at the seams Additionally, our waiting list for more volunteers seems to be never ending!
Spartacus Books is very proud of what it does, and I’m glad to be a member. I can honestly say that this has been more fruitful than I expected. I’m glad to be able to give back to the community I love.