Libraries adding food and drinks

Mirror staff

Federal Way Regional Library is one of three branches of the King County Library System that are testing food as a new attraction for library visitors.

Vending machines for food and beverages are in place at the Federal Way facility and soon will be joined by tables and chairs to give people a place to sit and enjoy their refreshments, officials said.

When the furniture arrives, Federal Way will be the third library with a Food for Thought Cafe. The others are in Bellevue and Redmond.

The hot and cold drinks, light snacks and meals are an attempt to make library visits as convenient as possible, officials said.

They said only a few libraries nationwide have tried food service.

In the King County system, cafes with service may be next if the vending approach proves popular enough.

“We were talking to Starbucks about it, but they didn’t think there would be enough foot traffic” to support a full-fledged coffee bar, said Elizabeth Risser, spokeswoman for the library system. “Maybe they thought libraries are dingy little places where people go to do homework real fast. That’s the kind of perception we’re trying to change.”

Officials said libraries are comfortable, welcoming environments for meeting friends and quiet reading, in addition to educational programs.

“Libraries constantly need to reinvent themselves to better serve the public,” said Bill Ptacek, county libraries director.

Officials said the vending machines have an upscale look. Revenue from sales will support the machines’ installation and library programs.

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