Food, glorious food. Once upon a time, libraries did not allow food and beverage on it premises. Understandably. The possibility of damaging materials, computers and attracting pests are huge and things you want to avoid. Yet (there is always a yet), we know that where there is food there are people and there is life. We want life in our libraries. As a solution, libraries have created cafes, lounge spaces and some libraries even reverse the “no food allowed policies” all together to welcome more people to the library spaces. I think this is the right way to go.
All libraries need a designated place for customers to relax, grab something to eat and enjoy the library space. And those spaces need to be inviting, with visually appealing furniture, space to plug up devices and to connect with other people. Make sure to come back and read the post on interior design in May 2017 for ideas.
Back to food. There are other ways to capture the livelihood of food-maniacs and food consumers.
Food trucks: A hot trend has become to pick a day for food trucks to come to your location and let the people enjoy the variety. It is also an excellent way to support local businesses.
Dinners at the Library: Pick a day out of month, pick a theme to talk about (or a book) and invite people to eat dinner with you at the library. It would be a rememberable and intimate experience that people would talk about and make others jealous and sign up for the next one. Invite an author, a local celebrity or maybe a chef.
Local Chefs: How many times have you gone to a restaurant, ate a great meal and wanted the recipe? A class with the local chefs can finally fulfill those dreams. Whether on video or at one of your branches. People will eat this up (pun intended).
A page on your site devoted to food and food resources: This is an obvious thing to do, but because it is evident it is forgotten. Your page can include books, databases, magazines, food-inspired music, favorite recipes by locals and librarians, information on how to support those who are challenged with getting healthy food or food period.
A collaboration with local restaurants: Sometimes libraries have to go to the mountain, and the mountain, in this case, is the restaurants or the food trucks. With a touch of style, you can provide a menu of library services to the returant goers and maybe even a book or two. Whatever fits your goals and budget.
With everything, before you commit to any ideas, take a moment to look and see if it fits your mission, vision, and goals. Does it fit your brand and will your customers enjoy the experience? If so, bon appétit.
UPDATES: Wanted to share some links of libraries with similar projects listed above: