INDIANAPOLIS — The Indy Reads bookstore reopened its doors to shoppers for the first time in two years on Friday at its new Fountain Square location.
"It is very exciting!" Christina Binhack, Indy Reads' vice president of programs, told WRTV. "We have missed seeing our supporters in our store."
The popular local bookstore's new location at 1066 Virginia Avenue has allowed both parts of Indy Reads to come together in one space. With its programming offices in the back and bookstore in the front, Binhack says the move made the organization stronger.
"We know the community will love the new space just as much as we do," she said. "The support we have received via phone calls and emails over the past year has shown us how much the community cares about our organization."
Indy Reads has been a literacy leader in Marion County for the last 37 years.
"It’s more than a store," Binhack said. "It’s an opportunity for us to create a community hub where families can visit to receive literacy resources and learn more about why literacy is important."
Marion County has over 49,000 adults who read below a 5th-grade level, according to Indy Reads. This, the organization says, affects how these individuals complete job applications, understand the news, or comprehend written instructions.
"They must gather their information through talking, listening, and memory. If they misunderstand initially or forget, that information is lost to them. Our programs help these adults find a better quality of life," Binhack said.
Since first opening in 2012, the Indy Reads bookstore has given the community a way to support its adult education classes. With every book purchased, patrons are helping the organization provide free High School Equivalency Diploma classes, English as a second language courses, job certification trainings, and tutoring for adults in Marion County.
Despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, Indy Reads broke records in student performance measurements by the end of its 2020-21 program year. Binhack adds that the current program year has started even stronger, with a promise to be their best one yet.
According to Indy Reads, when organizers switched their programs completely online, digital literacy skills grew higher for both its staff and its students.
"Our organization and students have come out of the worst of the pandemic stronger than ever," Binhack explained. "Access to resources has increased because there are more options for access. Instead of having to face barriers such as child care and transportation, families are able to gather information, receive training, and earn credentials all from the comfort and convenience of their own home."
Over the last two years the bookstore has been closed, Indy Reads has still served nearly 400 adults in gaining higher literacy levels.
Now that Indy Reads is open to in-person programming again, this means the organization is back to accepting gently-used book donations. Throughout the rest of November, the staff will collect book donations during business hours only. Starting December 1, donations will only be accepted on First Fridays or by appointment.
1066 Virginia Avenue
Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m. -6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.