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?
Last Friday our library staff went on a tour of some of the libraries in our area. The newest one on our trip, Utah Valley University‘s new library, had a cafe on the first floor and a food-anywhere policy. Some of our tour commented on that policy and speculated that UVU would revise that policy in a year or two.
Our next stop was the University of Utah‘s Marriott Library. They also have a food policy but food is restricted to only the first floor. This policy has been in place for over five years. I asked our tour guide how that has worked out and he said they have had minimal problems. Some chairs reupholstered, a few books rebound or repurchased, but no atrocity of real significance that had lasting impact.
If there are so few issues, why shouldn’t more libraries let patrons eat in the library?