Grande café mocha and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” anyone? Coffee and Kerouac?
The Lansdale Library Committee has begun discussions on how to bring a café or coffeehouse into Lansdale Library.
The idea was prompted by an email sent in December by resident George Kopena to former councilwoman and committee member Anne Scheuring. In the email, Kopena asked about the library renting a space to Starbucks or a similar business.
Committee member and new councilman Steve Malagari also inquired about a café during a recent tour of the library.
Committee member Mike Sobel asked if a café was feasible in the library. Director Tom Meyer said it was, as there is enough space in the library for such an amenity.
Committee member Mary Fuller cautioned that it would all depend on county health department regulations.
Meyer agreed that would be the first step – finding out what can and cannot be done through the county health department.
He said there is talk of putting the café at the front entrance.
As far as getting utilties there, it would be a lot of work because all the utilities are at the back of the building, he said.
Sobel said Director of Community Development John Ernst could have an idea of who the committee can reach out to at the health department. Director of Parks and Recration Carl Saldutti might also be a big help, he said.
“You can check with the people that do the snack stands at the pool area,” Fuller said. “It might be something they’d be interested in.”
Meyer said he would bring up the idea to the borough management team.
Fuller offered her support with her connections through Ristorante Toscano, where she works part-time as a server.
“I’ve been through health codes twice a year, whether we need it or not,” she said.
Fuller said the sale of pre-packaged foods may not require the health department’s OK, but there would need to be approval to sell hot beverages.
Further discussions will look at whether it would be self-serve or staffed by baristas.
“We’ve got the vending machine, and that’s a step toward this and that’s self-serve,” Meyer said. “I think this is more of having someone there.”
Fuller asked about Meyer’s opinion on having people looking at books and periodicals while drinking and spilling hot chocolate and coffee, on top of eating food.
Surely, a bane of librarians everywhere. Like oil and water, coffee and precious periodicals don’t mix.
“We’ve got the vending machine, so there’s food here already,” Meyer said. “I don’t think it would be that much of a difference.”
Meyer said no books or periodicals have gotten destroyed or damaged from food or drinks.
Sobel said if the committee goes with a place like Starbucks, the corporation would have to get all the health department approvals themselves.
“They know what they need to do,” he said. “That will be something on them: OK, you want to open, but you have to get your approvals from Montgomery County, and I’m sure they would.”
Malagari said the library would have to shell out an initial investment on items like sinks.
Sobel mentioned how Barnes and Noble has a Starbucks within its store, and Malagari said Barnes and Noble might have a contract with Starbucks.
What Malagari envisions is something similar to what he had at Ursinus College.
“They have a café, I think through a food brokerage company,” he said. “They have it outfitted to have a barista there or two people working. They sell cookies and other stuff for students studying. We could have a similar setup.”
Sobel saw the café as a way to modernize and draw more people into the library.
Malagari said the café could even become a location for art and literature readings.
“I was talking to Tom (Meyer) about artists coming in. You could put in visual art, have a poet, have somebody come in to do literature or a book discussion,” Malagari said. “It would make the atmosphere more comfortable, relaxed. You would get students in there studying a lot, so the possibility of getting coffee might be good for them.”
Sobel said the café at Barnes and Noble isn’t loud at all.
“People are sitting there, it’s quiet, and they’re reading whatever they want to read. Everybody’s happy,” he said.
Fuller said a café would make using the library’s services more conducive to people staying longer.
“They will be taking advantage of what we have. Anytime people are reading books or doing things in the library, how can that no be good?” she said.
Sobel added that people would also contribute more to the library’s raffles and buy more used books.
“If it generates revenue, and we can tie it in to all the fundraisers, why not?” he said.