A lingering image of traditional libraries for many is to visualize in our mind’s eye a librarian holding their finger to their mouth and indicating a silent “shush.” While I am not advocating for all hell breaking loose in libraries, I do think a bit of respectful social banter ‘midst the book racks wouldn’t hurt either.
While writing a recent post about libraries as great third places, the post briefly discussed the necessary elements that would help reshape an austere traditional library into a successful and active third place. In doing so, I noted five public libraries that have coffee shops/cafes now incorporated into them. This blend of activities/uses is a relatively simple method of community placemaking.
As I see it, the benefits of blending the activities/uses of a library and coffee shop include:
- More potential patrons (and donors).
- Improved socialization areas.
- A direct way for libraries to compete with (and capitalize on) social media.
- More community and citizen engagement.
- Access to snacks and drinks on site instead of off-site, creating less minor trips on area infrastructure.
- An additional revenue source for the library either through a lease or direct ownership of the shop/cafe. In tight budget times, a coffee shop of cafe may be the perfect recipe.
Potential risks and ways to overcome them include,
- Damage to books and documents from spills. This should be no more likely than someone spilling on a book when they take it home, read it in a car, or at an off-site coffee shop.
- Noise. By careful placement of the coffee shop/cafe, this can be overcome. Separate floors or walls are viable options.
- Theft. If there is a separate entrance, which fire codes may require, then install anti-theft devices at the entrance/exit as is done at the library’s primary entrance.
Here are some interesting findings from a research report entitled “The Survey of Library Cafes.”
– Snacks account for nearly 71% of the income of library cafes, though lunch adds a not at all negligible 20.83% of total revenue and breakfast chips in with another 8.33%, according to The Survey of Library Cafes.
– Salads in this era of health consciousness chipped in only a mean of 4.5% of sales, more in the public than college libraries. All salad sales came from the larger libraries, those with more than 600,000 annual patrons.
– The average price of a cup of coffee in the library cafes was $1.49, perhaps reflecting the Starbuck-ization of the library café. This figure also takes into account those libraries that gave their coffee away.
– More than 40% of the library cafes offered outdoor eating. Close to 65% of the libraries in the sample had vending machines, with an average of only about three vending machines per library.
To my personal dismay, I am not aware of such a blended library/coffee
shop format at community libraries in Greater Lansing, though there is one at Michigan State University. So, I thought I would try to list as many of those school and public libraries as I could track down as a way of demonstrating the concept does work and has been employed in a variety of locations. Here’s the list to date (to be updated as I discover more):
- Alma College, Michigan – Highland Java Cafe
- Arnold (Jefferson County), MO – Life Change Cafe
- Ball State University, IN – Bookmark Cafe
- Baltimore, MD – David & Dad’s Cafe’
- Bettendorf, IA – Dewey’s Cafe
- Bayville, NJ High School – The Campus Shop
- Boston, MA – Map Room Cafe
- Bozeman, MT – Lindley Perk Coffee Shop
- Bridgewater State College, MA – Starbucks
- Burlington, IA – Chapter’s Cafe
- Canton Township, MI – Jungle Java Express
- Central Michigan University – Java City
- Columbia University, NY – Everett Cafe
- Eastern Kentucky University – Java City
- Eastern Michigan University – Eagle Cafe (formerly Paradox Cafe)
- Eastern Washington University – Thirsty Minds
- Elizabethtown, PA – Elizabethtown Coffee Company
- Elmhurst, IL – More than Mocha
- Everett, WA – unnamed
- Franklin, TN High School – Cougar Cafe
- Frankfort, IN – Harry’s Bar
- Herrick, MI – unnamed
- Houston, TX Hastings High School – Literary Cafe
- Indiana State University – Cup and Chaucer Cafe
- Iowa State University – Bookends Cafe
- Jackson, TN – Cup and Chaucer
- Jefferson County (Northwest branch), MO – Le Cafe’
- Kansas State University – Bookend Cafe
- Kalamazoo College, MI – Biggby’s “The Book Club”
- Lexington, KY – Good Foods, Chapter 2
- Lexington, KY Tates Creek High School – The Bookmark
- Mannheim Township, PA – Tell Cafe’
- Michigan State University – Cyber Cafe
- Midland, MI – Cup and Chaucer Cafe
- Mount Holyoke College, MA – Rao’s Coffee
- North Little Rock, AR – Overdue Brew (love the name of the coffee shop)
- Pequea Valley, PA – Angela’s Cafe’
- Redford, MI – The Cookie Lady Cafe’
- Salt Lake City, UT – Salt Lake Roasting Company
- San Jose, CA: Alum Rock branch; Evergreen branch – Maui Wowi; Tully branch – Mojo Cafe’; and Vineland branch
- Shawnee State University, OH – Jazzman Coffee Bar
- Southfield, Mi – Bookends Cafe’
- Spring Arbor University, MI – Sacred Grounds
- University of Colorado (Boulder) – The Laughing Goat
- University of Massachusetts (Amherst) – Procrastination Station Cafe (another favorite name)
- University of Minnesota (2) – The Wise Owl Cafe’ and Academic Blend Cafe’
- University of Michigan (Dearborn) – unnamed
- Western Michigan University – Maui Wowi
- Westerville, OH – Starbucks
- Wyoming, MI – Bookworm Cafe
- Yale University, CT – Thain Family Cafe‘