MAINE LIBRARIES TURNING REFERENCE ROOMS INTO CAFES
Kennebec Journal, ME - On a bleak rainy day, the homey smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts out of the reference room at the Kennebunk Free Library. Inside the room, people sit at tables talking while nibbling on muffins and scones. Not a single hushing librarian is in sight. That's because the librarians have turned the reference room into the Reference Room Cafe, where beverages, snacks, sandwiches and salads are on sale every day during library hours. Library Director Stephanie Marshall Limmer and her staff want people to chat. They don't care about the crumbs.
They are even looking for ways to open up the cafe to teenagers as a coffeehouse. "The hope is the reference collection becomes more of a browsing collection," said Janet Cate, assistant director. Kennebunk Free Library, which opened its cafe June 17, is among a number of public libraries in the state that are going into the coffee shop business. Libraries across Maine are adding cafes for a new source of revenue and as a way to entice customers away from the national bookstore chains that have long offered such services.
Susie's commentary: This is the kind of creative thinking that DC needs now because of the budget shortfall and all the time because it speaks to keeping up with the times.