Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Bryn Mawr BookStore in August 2012. (Photo: Brian C. via Yelp)

The Bryn Mawr Bookstore was founded in 1971 as one of 10 used bookshops in the Northeast opened by Bryn Mawr College graduates. Today, two remain: The Lantern in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge’s.

In celebration of 50 years of the store, Jan Gardner, who wrote New England literary news for The Boston Globe for 10 years before retiring, wrote a 22-page booklet chronicling its origins and years in business. “The First 50 Years: A History of the Bryn Mawr Book Store in Cambridge” it’s being honored at a celebration at the store this month.

“I am very happy to have the history of the bookstore documented with such colorful details and commentary,” bookstore president Melissa Vaughn said in a press release.

The bookstore is unique run by volunteers who sell donated books, with profits dedicated to scholarships for students of Bryn Mawr, a liberal arts college for women founded by Quakers in 1885 and named after its Pennsylvania town.

The store’s history and focus piqued Gardner curiosity when she began volunteering in 2021. Anne “Roo” Dane, then store president and a volunteer for 40 years, asked if she would write its history.

Gardner includes the store’s forerunner in Cambridge: an annual three-day book sale run from 1959 to 1970 to benefit the same fund. In its first year after the storefront location was secured, the bookstore made a profit of $14,000 – equivalent to about $100,000 in today’s dollars – all of which went to Bryn Mawr scholarships. The total has now surpassed $2 million.

The store includes fiction, biography and memoir, cookbooks, children’s and young adult books, poetry, mysteries, history, self-help, religion and other categories and is open Wednesday through Saturday.

Book lovers are welcome to celebrate the publication of Gardner’s history (selling for $4) from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 24 with refreshments at the Bryn Mawr Bookstore, 373 Huron Ave., Huron Village in West Cambridge.