Your grandparents' library is a thing of the past.
Gone are quiet patrons who peruse endless, dark rows of books on shelves under the watchful eye of shushing librarians.
Technology has literally forced a shift in the way people access and interpret information, which by extension has provided the impetus for libraries to reevaluate its traditional role.
To counter the shift, libraries have evolved dramatically to become more relevant as social meeting places.
In Bolingbrook that shift has yielded a brand new facility, conceptualized as a community gathering place.
Central to this theme is the institution of Brooks Café, which sits inside the lobby of the . Designed as a social hub, the coffee shop atmosphere extends an opportunity for residents to connect and feel more part of the community.
"A community survey indicated that patrons wanted a cafe in the library like the ones at Borders or with reasonable prices," said Karen Anderson, a library project consultant. "Moms coming out of storytime weren’t looking for a $4 cup of coffee."
With the library board in agreement, a request for proposals was published in an effort to find an outside business that would be interested in operating the cafe.
"The key to make this venture successful was that it must be a partnership," Anderson said. "There were several good proposals. In the end, one approach stood apart. The Petersons had been living [in Bolingbrook] a long time and understood the clientele. They offered a menu that had variety at a reasonable cost. Their idea was definitely the best."
Chris and Jenn Peterson, who own and operate Brooks Café, credit a failed business with helping them win the contract.
"We had a tea house in a strip mall in Naperville off Route 59," Chris Peterson said. "Due to the economic crash of 2008, we were forced to close. We learned a lot from the experience and were determined to get back in the game."
Once the cafe opportunity was posted in 2010, the Petersons moved quickly.
"I’ve lived in Bolingbrook for 34 years and when you see something you really want, you have to chase your dreams," he said. "If you wait for them to come to you they will slip away."
When the , the six-member staff at the Brooks Café were on hand to welcome all with an assortment of free treats.
Now in full swing, patrons can purchase coffee, tea, lemonade and other assorted beverages along with pastries, cookies, chips and sandwiches.
"I’ve enjoyed the convenience of having Brooks Café at the library," said patron Marty Barton. "The selections are perfect for snacking or a light lunch while sitting in the lobby indulging in a bit of reading, chatting or people watching."