Cafe & Bookstore
The Friends’ Bahlow Bookstore and Bank & Trust Café opened in April 2009 as part of the Library’s building expansion. The Friends of the Library wanted to provide a warm, welcoming space to sell the books that were discarded from the Library and donated from the community. It was created to be in service to the community and continues to keep prices low for that reason. The area is operated solely by unpaid volunteer staff with all funds going to cover expenses and then back to the library for support of special programs.
Gary and Barbara Bahlow were strong supporters of the Chatham Area Public Library and funded a portion of the Bookstore. Bank & Trust Co. also wanted to support this new service and donated funds to support the creation of the Café.
On behalf of the Friends of the Library Board, we welcome you to the Friends’ Bookstore! Thank you for your support.
As a service, we aim to keep prices low, all while retaining small profits to benefit the Friends of the Library.
As of 7.28.21, offerings are coffee, tea, soda, juice boxes and water. We also have some limited snacks.
|Bekah Essex and her grandmother, Kylene Martin|
|Olivia Clardy (R) and her sister, Katlynn|
Meet Bekah Essex, 11, our youngest volunteer for the Sweet Corn Book Sale, and Olivia Clardy, our volunteer who pedaled Bikeangelo up to the Sweet Corn Festival to promote the library and Book Sale to festival-goers.
Bekah, a sixth-grader from Auburn, learned her love for books and volunteering from her grandma and bookstore volunteer, Kylene Martin. Bekah loves helping people through community service and especially enjoys reading. Her favorite author is cartoonist Raina Telgemeier who writes and illustrates best-selling graphic novels.
“I always remember coming to this library for preschool storytime,” said Bekah. “It was a part of my childhood! When my grandma asked if I wanted to help, I said ‘yes’ immediately.”
One of Olivia Clardy’s favorite things about the library is looking for books. Every time she goes, she finds a new book to check out! She volunteered to help her sister Katlyn (a library employee) promote the Book Sale at the Sweet Corn Festival. It took Olivia a little while to get used to riding Bikeangelo with the huge basket in the front, but the slight hill up to Chatham’s South Park didn’t deter her! Coming back down the hill proved more challenging with the wind shifting her towards the center of the road. But she made it!
Thanks to all of our volunteers, including Bekah and Olivia, who helped make our Sweet Corn Book Sale a success.
Meet Volunteer Mary Bishop with Friends of the Chatham Area Public Library
Mary Bishop’s favorite part of volunteering at the Café and Bookstore is meeting new people.
“I’ve made so many friends over the years,” she said. “I love being out and around other people -it also gives me a sense of satisfaction to help others.”
Mary is a longtime volunteer in the cardiac visitor lounge for Springfield Memorial Hospital and started volunteering with Friends of the Library, too, in 2009. She works behind the counter to ring up book, coffee and snack sales. If a customer needs help finding a book, she helps them search. If they aren’t busy, she likes to straighten books (and maybe find a few for herself!). Her favorite authors include Terri Blackstock, Karen Kingsbury and local author Dee Henderson.
She encourages others to volunteer. “I appreciate the sense of belonging. It takes the focus off yourself and puts it on others. It’s a great way to pay it forward!”
Thanks for your volunteer service, Mary! If you are interested in volunteering with Friends of the Chatham Library, please visit our website here.
Meet Twila Clark and Kylene Martin – Volunteers with Friends of the Library
You can usually find Twila Clark and Kylene Martin working together at the Friends Café and Bookstore. The dynamic duo coordinates everything related to the book donations – sorting, organizing pop-up book sales, preparing for the Sweet Corn Book Sale in July and more.
Twila Clark started volunteering in 2009 in the Café for the evening shift. She loves meeting new people and helping them find books.
“I like the book part better than the snack part,” she said with a smile. “I know some of the books the regulars like to read, and if we have them, I direct them to their favorites. I just like talking with the people who come in and helping them find books. I encourage people to come in, spend time and see what’s happening in our library and bookstore.”
Kylene Martin has volunteered the past six years after she retired from teaching English and Literature and staying home with her grandchildren. She started shelving books and appreciates the opportunity to work with books and authors she has always loved. Her favorite section of the library and bookstore are the children’s sections.
“I spent many pleasant hours there with my five grandchildren every Tuesday morning for years and years and years with Miss Vickie and then Miss Joyce,” she recalled. “And when I was teaching junior high, I tried to keep up on the literature kids were interested in. I wanted to know about the characters they were talking about.”
Kylene has read the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling at least three times!
Both Kylene and Twila agree: Volunteering at the Friends Café and Bookstore is a fun way to make new friends. “It’s a good chance to meet new people as new customers come into store. We help them find books they are looking for, suggest new authors. It’s such a great chance to be helpful and to have fun doing it.”
Thanks for your volunteer service, Twila and Kylene! If you are interested in volunteering with Friends of the Chatham Library, please visit our website here.
There are many ways to help the Friends of the Library. If you like to connect with your community, talk about books and support your Library, there is no better way than to be a volunteer in our Friends’ Café & Bookstore! For more information, click on and complete the Volunteer Information Form, and it will be sent to the Bookstore & Café Coordinator. You will be contacted, and the Coordinator will discuss the open volunteer needs, typical job duties and answer any questions you may have. We hope you’ll join the fun!