As Rozzie Bound explores the possibility of becoming a cooperatively owned and operated bookstore, we want to provide helpful resources about cooperatives.

Cooperative and Solidarity Economy Bookshelf

We have created a new virtual bookshelf with dozens of great books about co-operatives, democratic workplaces, and the growing Solidarity Economy movement. Members of our Cooperative Steering Committee have all been given copies of Collective Courage: A History of African American Economic Though and Practice, by Prof. Jessica Gordon Nembhard, which is also available on our Bookshop site.

Click here to check out the bookshelf.

Eight Cooperative Principles

Most cooperatives are guided by the “Seven Cooperative Principles,” described below. Some cooperatives are now moving to include an eighth principle that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as a core value. (See “US credit unions to include diversity as the eighth co-operative principle,” Coop News, September 2019.)

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
  2. Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.  Elected representatives are accountable to the membership.  Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
  3. Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.  Members allocate surpluses for developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  4. Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous self-help organizations controlled by their members.  If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
  5. Education, Training, and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, representatives, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
  7. Concern for Community: Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

Cooperative Businesses Build a Better World

  • Cooperative businesses are owned and democratically controlled by their members – the people who use the co-op’s services or buy its goods – not by outside investors. ​
  • Co-op members elect their board of directors from within the membership.
  • Co-ops return surplus revenues to members proportionate to their use of the cooperative, not proportionate to their “investment” or ownership share.
  • Co-ops are motivated not by profit, but by service-to meet their members’ needs for affordable and high quality goods or services; Exist solely to serve their members.

Source: Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, NY, https://www.buffalostreetbooks.com/about-us