Alameda Main Library Opens New Retail Bookstore

Alameda Free Library--The new retail bookstore is inside the Alameda Free Library.

Alameda Main Library Opens New Retail Bookstore

Alameda has a new place to purchase used books, and it’s inside the library.

The Friends of the Alameda Free Library (FAL) has opened a small space near the café in the Main Library where patrons can find donated books for sale. FAL converted a donated books sorting space in the Main Library into a retail space. The new space is called Books for Friends (BFF).

The selection in BFF is curated by longtime professional bookseller Philip Barry. Barry is a newcomer to Alameda after long stints in Berkeley and Reno.

“I just wanted to have my hand in books,” said Barry. “I love books and I like working with people who love books.”

FAL volunteers struggled through the pandemic for new ways to keep fundraising dollars flowing during a time when the group’s big, twice-yearly, in-person used book sales at Alameda Point were not possible.

“We have accumulated 1,000 boxes of donated books in our warehouse and needed a way to sell them,” said Marcie Soslau, a volunteer who heads FAL’s book sale committee. “Our goals were to replace some of the revenue we historically provide to the library and to reconnect with the community.”

Then the idea of selling out of the sorting space came up. “We built it around Philip — his experience was critical to being able to create a shop and run it three days a week,” said Soslau.

Barry spent weeks sorting through hundreds of boxes in the warehouse to choose the volumes that could help transform a small, nondescript room into an inviting used book space filled with high-quality selections in nearly every genre. Barry and his team focused on creating shelves of children’s and young adult books, priced modestly to encourage reading by young people. Most of those books sell for $1 to $3.

Along with the usual genres such as mystery, suspense, science fiction, and non-fiction, there are two shelves of poetry and a few shelves of vintage and collectible books, among many other genres.
FAL continues to solicit donations of books, CDs, and DVDs as the sale space will need replenishment. There are hopes of reviving the big in-person sale on Oct. 21 through 23.

“We look forward to bringing that tradition back to the Alameda community,” said FAL President Karen Butter. “Books for Friends will also be a great place for supporters to shop between sales.”

BFF is open noon to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It is staffed and run by volunteers. Most forms of payment are accepted, and proceeds go directly to library operations and programs.

The Alameda Main Library is located at 1550 Oak St. To donate to FAL, call 510-747-7737 and leave a message; a volunteer will call back to arrange a time for drop-off.

To learn more about the Alameda Main Library, visit

Jan Greene    Friends of the Alameda Free Library volunteer Philip Barry is the curator of books at the new retail space inside the Alameda Main Library called Books for Friends.