Booksellers on Creating Sanctuary to Foster Dialogue and Discovery

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    ABA Education logoFollowing a series of bookseller discussions at the American Booksellers Association’s 10 Spring Forums and at Winter Institute 12, ABA has compiled a comprehensive list of bookseller suggestions aimed at helping stores develop strategies for strengthening the unique role they play in their communities.

    The document, “Bookstores — An Inclusive Place for Dialogue and Discovery,” is available in the Education Curriculum on BookWeb (a username and password are required; booksellers needing login information can e-mail

    The numerous suggestions shared by booksellers from a broad range of member stores are organized under six keywords: activism, community, diversity, empathy, outreach, and sanctuary. In the final of a series of articles highlighting each keyword, here are the many suggestions provided for the category of sanctuary.

    The suggestions below may not work for every store; booksellers are encouraged to consider their store culture, community, and business goals when beginning any new initiative. Booksellers who have implemented any of these suggestions in their stores are encouraged to let ABA know.


    • Bookstores reflect the specific needs of their own community — use the physical space to give your community a place to share their ideas.
    • Define whether your store has a defined identity, or if it is more fluid and able to quickly respond to your community needs.
    • Have a statement displayed in your store that makes everyone feel welcome.
    • Display diverse books in windows, have conversations about inclusion, and try not to alienate any person or group.
    • Resist building walls. Encourage dialogue from all points of view.
    • A diverse staff creates a welcoming space for customers.
    • Think about security for controversial events.
    • Offer store space to community groups.
    • Host Living Room Conversations.