About the Project

The Co-op's move came after a long period of time when many similar independent bookstores have suffered or been forced to close.

Topics that will serve to guide the conversation include the following:

  • What is your relationship to the Co-op?
  • How long have you been a member/customer?
  • Do you remember your first experience/impression of the Co-op?
  • How would you describe it to someone who has never been there?
  • Could you describe it in one word or phrase?
  • Do you have a favorite section, corner or chair in the bookstore?
  • What does the Co-op mean to you? How does it make you feel?
  • Why is the Co-op unique/important – to the University, Chicago, and the global literary communities?
  • How does the Co-op embody the life of the mind/ethos of the University of Chicago?
  • Are you concerned about its future? What would you do to save it?

Everything created and gathered for this project will be archived by the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center.

Our goal is for this website to serve as a digital archive accessible to everyone, no matter how far from the Co-op's Front Table you live. We plan to include hundreds of photographs, audio interviews, video, a narrative history and an interactive timeline—funding pending.

In the end, we hope to create a book of narrative photography and written history of the Co-op.


Q Why did the bookstore move?
A: The University of Chicago bought the building (formerly the Chicago Theology Seminary), and turned it into Saieh Hall, the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.
Q Where is the Co-op moving?
A: One block east to 5751 S. Woodlawn, the former McGiffert House, once a CTS residence hall.
Q When did the move happen?
A: In November 2012.
Q Can I still participate in the documentary project?
A: Yes! We'd love to hear from you! Please email us at sem.coop.project@gmail.com.
Q How did this project get started?
A: Megan and Jasmine both came up with the idea around the same time independently of each other. Megan had written a feature story about the Co-op for Gapers Block, and Jasmine read it, saw a few photos and got in touch. Wouldn't it be great if we put our heads together on a bigger documentary effort? And lo, the Seminary Co-op Documentary Project was born!