Food in Our Local Library

I have discussed food in the library before, but I just found out last week that the Harold B. Lee Library is considering adding a cafe and eating area. I must admit I was pretty excited. It will take numerous approvals and buy-in from campus administrators, library security, and university food services (who would staff the cafe)–not to mention local librarians.

Food and beverages would not be allowed all over the library, however; food and drinks would be restricted to just the cafe area. The proposed area for the cafe is our Periodicals section which has comfortable chairs, tables for study, and a lot of natural light, so I think it would be ideal.

If food is in the library, is it better to be allowed everywhere in the library or just one area?

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5 Responses to Food in Our Local Library

  1. Amanda says:

    We recently changed from a no food policy to a less restrictive policy. We have a stand that sells coffee and tea, bottled drinks, bagels, pastries, and snack items, and had previously restricted consumption to the immediate area around the stand. We’ve relaxed the policy so students can have snacks in other areas, except those where sensitive items or technology are located.

    This has made it more pleasant for us, since we no longer have to play police, and students can have snacks while they’re studying. If they want more than a snack, though, such as pizza or a sandwich, it needs to be in the area around the stand.

    We’re delusional if we think students were taking our books home and keeping them in a pristine, crumb-free environment. They’re probably taking them home or to cluttered dorm rooms, throwing them on the floor, using them as coasters, and reading them as they cram for finals in the cafeterias at lunch. Besides, now that a lot of our students are bringing their laptops to the library, their spilled drink is more likely to damage their own equipment instead of ours!

    • Gerrit says:

      Amanda, I totally agree about deluding ourselves thinking our books are taken care of once they leave the library. Coasters! Love it. So true.

      I like that you library extended eating boundaries after a while. It could be that we are planning something similar. First see how a restricted area goes, then extend if there are no issues.

  2. Voted for ‘everywhere’ though of course in practice some areas (like a reading room for rare books) do have to be kept food-free.

    I also think foods like pizza, fried chicken, and other things that induce drool in anyone within smelling range should, for reasons of courtesy, be kept out of the library, and the rustling of bags of crisps should be avoided in quiet study zones. But being more restrictive than that seems over-protective to me.

    • Gerrit says:

      Deborah, I am glad you reminded us about rare book reading rooms. Some places, of course, should be restricted from anything that could damage the items (in these cases many libraries ban the use of ink pens even, so food seems axiomatic).

      Olfactory/auditory considerations are also good discussions to include.

  3. We should just throw in the towel and hire busboys to clean up after people eating in the library. But, yes, eating over a computer keyboard and a medieval manuscript should be forbidden. :)

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