Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ball State University Libraries' Popular Bookmark Cafe Demonstrates Elements of Libraries' Destination Tagline

Nearly two years ago, Ball State University Dining conducted a survey about locating a café in Bracken Library. The idea received enthusiastic support from students and faculty. Their responses demonstrated that a café offering a hot and cold menu, beverages, and other items would prove to be a significant and worthwhile addition to their Bracken Library experience.

The Bookmark Café provides another important facet in the Ball State University dynamics of educational and social convergence. By fostering group interactivity in a relaxed setting where food and conversation are welcome and part of the academic library experience, the Bookmark Café expands the meaning of the University Libraries’ tag line, A destination for research, learning, and friends.

The Bookmark Café opened in early January near the start of Spring Semester 2007. The Café is an inviting facility of 900 square feet conveniently located at the southeast corner of Bracken’s first floor. Its menu consists of a wide variety of hot and cold beverages, and an appealing selection of sandwiches, desserts, soups, and salads. Café choices can be enjoyed sitting at one of the many comfortable chairs and tables inside the Café or just outside its doors or elsewhere throughout Bracken. Besides cash, students can also use their meal cards or pay with their credit or debit card.

In commenting about the significance of the Bookmark Café for the Libraries’ users, Dean of University Libraries Dr. Arthur W. Hafner said, “Students, faculty, and staff use this new, engaging café space as a unique social milieu to talk, share experiences, and discuss various and sundry matters such as academic, social, and political issues. In this way, the Bookmark Café contributes to the continuing transformation of the University Libraries as the primary, social, learning, and gathering space on campus for teamwork, communication, and creative student engagement.”

Ball State University President Jo Ann Gora attended the official opening of the Bookmark Cafe on March 7, 2007. In commenting about the importance of this new social space, she said, “The Café is an element in Ball State’s Strategic Plan for improving the university community’s quality of life through new construction and renovations of campus facilities to best support learning, scholarship, and institutional effectiveness as well as increase the vitality of the campus social and cultural life.”

Historically, coffee houses and libraries have served as egalitarian meeting places where community members could hear political debates, poets, writers, artists, and scientists talk and freely share their thoughts and ideas. The popularity of the Bookmark Café shows that people still need and enjoy informal gathering spots that provide a sense of community. Our new Café benefits and enhances our students’ learning, research, and social experiences while studying in Bracken Library.

Each day during the fall and spring academic semesters, over 4,600 persons use Bracken Library. Students, faculty, and staff come to talk with our librarians who help them with their research projects and assignments, to take advantage of the comfortable and friendly atmosphere for individual and collaborative learning, to access the print and digital collections, and to use the excellent technology, software, and printing that is freely accessible to them.

Plan to stop by the Bookmark Café during your next visit to Bracken Library to enjoy the friendliness and conviviality that shows the University Libraries continues to be A destination for research, learning, and friends.

For more information, contact Arthur W. Hafner, Ph.D., M.B.A., Ball State University’s Dean of University Libraries,, (765) 285-5277.

This newsletter article first appeared in The Library Insider 5(3): 1; March 2007.

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