Bonanza of books awaits readers at Warren’s ‘Friends’ bookstore

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published May 31, 2024

 The Friends of the Warren Public Library Bookstore attracts readers of all ages.  Louis Speelman, 18 months, flips through one of the many children’s books with Kathy Tasich, co-chair of the bookstore, and Naida Okray, board president.

The Friends of the Warren Public Library Bookstore attracts readers of all ages. Louis Speelman, 18 months, flips through one of the many children’s books with Kathy Tasich, co-chair of the bookstore, and Naida Okray, board president.

Photo by Gena Johnson


WARREN — Avid, voracious readers or those who read occasionally for leisure will find a variety of books, games, DVDs, puzzles, magazines and more for low prices at the Friends of the Warren Public Library Bookstore.

Located at 5961 Beebe St., the bookstore is nestled in the garage of Warren’s old Fire Station No. 4 in a building shared with the Warren Crime Commission on one end and the Warren Village Historic District Commission on the other.

This bookstore is quite unique.

“As far as I know in the state of Michigan, Warren is the only library that has a free-standing bookstore. Most of the other libraries in the area have their friends of the library bookstore inside the library — like Sterling Heights, Clinton Township and St. Clair Shores,” said Naida Okray, the president of the Friends of the Warren Public Library’s board of directors.

Having a stand-alone bookstore has its benefits.

“It gives the feeling of being in a bookstore,” said Okray. “You aren’t in a library trying to be quiet.”

Customers rave about the wide selection, how the store is organized and the prices.

“Just the variety of books to pick up, and old DVDs,” said Claudia Frenette, who has been coming to the bookstore for more than a decade. “I like mysteries. There’s a lot of them here.”

Deborah Birchfield credits her interest in romance novels and mysteries with helping her learn to read as a teen.

“In fact, this is how I learned to read, (by) reading books. I wasn’t really good at school,” Birchfield said.  “My mother used to read true romances and that’s how I started.”

Mysteries, romance novels and authors that write about consistent characters readers can follow through the characters’ life journeys were the favorites among customers on this visit to the Friends bookstore.

“I like the old authors — Janet Dailey. I like Nora Robertson, but she’s not old. I have a list that I follow,” Birchfield said. Included on her list were Julia Quinn, Julie Garwood, Johanna Lindsey, Susan Wiggs and Jude Deveraux, some of whom are no longer writing or have passed away.

“I’m aging. So are the authors,” Frenette said. “That’s something I don’t think I really paid attention to 20 years ago.”

The bookstore also appeals to the younger set with its “kid club.” Those 16 years old and younger can join and receive a card. They get a free book for every 12 visits.

The bookstore is organized by topics, and the books are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.  Shoppers just go to their area of interest to find the books they want.

“It’s very well laid out,” Okray said.

Hardcovers and paperbacks can be purchased for a nominal amount.

“The most expensive of our books are $2,” she said.

That includes legal hornbooks that explain specific areas of the law. When purchased new, they are priced upward of $150 each.

The bookstore is operated by volunteers and is open every Friday from 9 a.m. to noon, except for holidays when the library is closed. In addition, every third Saturday of the month is “bag sale day” and the bookstore is open from 9 a.m. to noon.

“We sell beautiful canvas book bags,” Okray said. “If you buy one, then come in on our bag sale day, you can bring that bag in, and you can fill it with all the books you can fit into it for $7.”

Book sales are the Friends’ biggest fundraiser, said Okray. From the sales, they have purchased prizes for the summer reading program, including bikes, a Nintendo Switch accessories kit, Lego sets, memberships to the Detroit Zoo, memberships to the Warren Community Center, gift cards and more.

“Our money goes to pay for programs the city doesn’t put in the budget, for instance the summer reading program. That usually runs about $12,000 a year,” Okray said.  “And we are the ones that pay for it.”

The Friends pay for the prizes in the program, according to Okray.

“The summer reading program is very valuable for the city of Warren. First of all, it keeps people reading. It keeps people informed,” Okray said.  “And we do our best to make sure that things are bought for them.”

This year, the summer reading program runs from June 8 to Aug.10. Babies, kids, teens and adults can participate. Those wanting to join the program can stop by any branch of the Warren Public Library or register online at

The Friends of the Warren Public Library have been instrumental to the library.

“There were times when we didn’t have money to buy new books,” said Warren Library Director Oksana Urban.

That was in early 2010, before the 20-year millage was passed, which increased the library budget.

“Earlier in 2010, the Friends were our lifesavers because they gave us funds that they made selling books, and we were able to buy bestsellers at that time,” Urban said.  “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to do that because we were really strapped for funds.”

According to Urban, the Friends of the Warren Public Library have been providing financial aid to the library for 52 years.

The Friends are always looking for new members. Those interested in becoming a member can fill out a form with their name and contact information, which is available at every Warren library.