A friend of Mine just graduated with a Degree in Literature and we talk about the futures of libraries all the time. We often ask what would happen if libraries opened up a small coffee shop/stand inside of them? With enough "marketing" would people go to libraries instead?
What you do is co-opt a coffee stand to open shop right outside your front door, or in a secluded corner. That way people can get food and stay longer, but the library doesn't just turn into a coffee shop with a few books.
I've seen a few libraries with the just-outside-the-door model, and a Borders with a small Peet's upstairs. Both were well-executed.
The Cameron Village library (Raleigh, NC) has a coffee shop. The best info I could find is from their Facebook page :
> Has it been a while since you been to a library? Cameron Village Regional Library is the only library in Wake County that offers coffee bar service to its patrons! Come visit your public library and browse the stacks with a beverage in hand. Or just come and meet up with a friend and catch up before heading over to the shops and events at Cameron Village.
I've seen quite a few that execute the coffee shop idea nicely!
The main branch of the Ottawa Public Library has a nice little coffee/food shop in the middle of its main floor.
I've also visited two public libraries in smaller cities north of Toronto recently, and they also have similar shops. I think it is a great idea, as I will sometimes go to the library to work for the day and don't even have to leave the building for lunch.
Of the 4 library systems I am most familiar with around here:
* One in a city of 36K people doesn't have refreshments, but is located on a street with lots of restaurants and at least 3 coffee shops within a block or 2.
* One in a city of ~56K people has a coffee kiosk under a canopy/tent alongside the library (this is Southern California, weather's not too big an issue).
* The central library in a city of ~140K has a coffee shop in a sheltered part of a patio/courtyard. I don't think the branch libraries have coffee.
* Los Angeles Central library has 2 restaurants inside the main library building (Panda Express, and a sandwich counter), and a pricier white-tablecloth restaurant in the garden in front of the building. I don't know about the branch libraries.
Indianapolis Central Library is a beautiful facility (it better be, for what we spent on it) with dozens of computers throughout and a coffee bar on the first floor. There's usually a line for both. It's great. It's a setup that works there. My local branch, on the other hand, has a strict no food and drink policy. That's too bad, but you don't need marketing if you have computers. People need internet access and they will max out their library computer hours regardless.
To sliverstorm's point, the Philly-style pretzel shop across the street from my branch does a nice business with kids after school (and me any time of the week), and I long for a nice coffee shop in the adjacent vacant space.