Monday, December 11, 2017

Coffee in the library

My library, in the nineties, was an early adopter in the "Coffee shops in Libraries" movement. In the face of the terrible fears of chaos and destruction attendant upon experimenting with coffee in libraries we had the hubris to put in a giant two-story mural facing into the library of an overfull latte spilling wildly across the wall. Ha ha ha. That mural is long gone, but I try to keep its memory alive by walking around the library as often as possible with a giant white bowl-like cup filled to the brim with some creamy cappuccino thing. I rarely spill it. I try. I knock over my cup all the time, but it's always empty. "AAARRGGGHHHH!" I cry out. "How does this cup always get empty so fast!!"

But despite my own cavalier attitude, I am seasoned enough with coffee shops and coffee in the library to know that some rules for coffee in libraries are necessary. These are the ones I ask our patrons to follow:

1   If you are bringing coffee into the library please cover it with a lid. When you drop your coffee we will be checking to make sure there is a lid swimming around in the pool of beverage.

2   If you are going to spill your coffee please do it in the coffee shop.

3   When you instead spill your coffee in the library please do it when custodians are in the building.

4   When you spill your coffee in the library when there are no custodians please let us know that you spilled your coffee so we can clean it up before it migrates.

5   When you spill your coffee in the library when there are no custodians and you don't let us know that you spilled your coffee try not to walk around in your spilled coffee.

6   When you walk around in your spilled coffee please don't walk to the carpeted areas as it makes it harder for us to trace your footsteps back to the original pool of coffee.

Finally, thank you so much for trying to clean up your own coffee spill, but no, you're right, two napkins is not enough to clean up a pint and a half of coffee and milk. And yes, I did note that there is a lid floating around in the coffee. Good job!


  1. I had forgotten that mural. But I do remember someone saying "They could spill coffee on the books," and being reminded that "We let them take the books home, where we have no control." [And you have done some fine writing about what can happen to books outside the library.]

    Minneapolis Central also allows beverages in cups with lids, but the are DEATH on food in the library. I was almost thrown out once because I was nibbling on M&Ms.

    1. Hmmm, that's pretty severe, M&Ms? Though it is true that the whole "Melt in your mouth not in your hands" thing is a bit of a lie.

      Our last official policy, which will never seriously be enforced, is no hot food, cold food okay. The best thing about that policy solution was making fun of it.

  2. So, if I understand the policy correctly, I could have a plate of nice gloppy spaghetti and sauce, let's say, and so long as I let it get cold before I brought it into the problem?

    1. Yes Ellen, that is indeed the policy. Even though this is only a few months old now as a policy it is being forgotten already as is so often the case with highly reactive bizarre compromise rules. I do love the idea of telling a patron "I'm sorry, we don't allow hot food in the library, but it's 10 degrees out so feel free to set it out our front doors for a few minutes and it should be okay.


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