Just a few years ago, the Westport Library’s decision to open a tiny cafe was controversial.
Too Starbucks-y! some cried.
Too noisy! others complained.
This is a library, for god’s sake! a few harrumphed.
Today, of course, the Library Café is one of the most important hubs in a building that has become a true community gathering place. It’s a spot where business meetings, study sessions, writing, socializing — and sandwich-nibbling and coffee-drinking — take place. Often all at the same time.
Now it’s time for an upgrade.
The Café is serving healthy, organic — and local — food.
The whole grain muffins and scones are baked daily in Westport (without preservatives).
Even the soft drinks are locally bottled — and sweetened with cane sugar, not yucky ol’ corn syrup.
Café manager Sarah Tunney — who, in typical Westport Library fashion has a Ph.D., and taught at NYU — has added a few other wrinkles.
For example, a “Word of the Day” challenges patrons.
And a “Pay It Forward” option allows anyone to buy a drink for anyone else — even if she’s not there at the moment. It’s another small piece of community-building, library director Maxine Bleiweis says.
Next week — during Staples’ mid-term exams — the cafe will stay open later than usual. “Brain food and drink” will include free samples of “Jaina Chai,” named for teen librarian Jaina Lewis. (It’s all local too — the black tea and spices, even the honey.)
There are also extended hours during WestportREADS events, with the added attraction of desserts and sweets from local bakeries (and sandwiches, for those who missed dinner).
The best part of the Library Cafe: You don’t hear that annoying, just-a-bit-too-loud music Starbucks is so fond of.
Then again, what do you expect? This is a library, for god’s sake!