Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, October 31, 2007

High schools using coffee to lure students into libraries

October 31, 2007

Advertisement

Kwesi Utley, right, serves customers in the library coffeehouse Oct. 17 at Centennial High School in Franklin, Tenn. Cafes like this are becoming in high schools popular around the country, and some school officials say they promote use of the library and increased studying during school hours.

Kwesi Utley, right, serves customers in the library coffeehouse Oct. 17 at Centennial High School in Franklin, Tenn. Cafes like this are becoming in high schools popular around the country, and some school officials say they promote use of the library and increased studying during school hours.

— Even before the bell rings each morning, students at Centennial High School are lined up to get into the library. But they aren't necessarily looking for books.

They are waiting for a morning cup of joe at the Cougar Cafe, a coffee shop run by students.

Coffeehouses are springing up in high school libraries around the country, marking a big departure from the days when librarians sternly prohibited food, drinks and talking.

Some health advocates wonder whether high school students really need any more caffeine, or the calories in that caramel mochaccino.

But school officials say these coffee shops are promoting reading and studying by attracting teenagers who might not otherwise hang out in a library.

"Once they have them in there, they have their eyes and hopefully have their minds for a little bit," said Doug Johnson, a school library consultant from Minnesota.

The school library cafes are usually simplified versions of the coffee shops at Borders or Barnes & Noble bookstores. Centennial High's cafe, which has been open for only a few months, has an espresso machine and a milk frother, and sells fancy coffee drinks, hot and iced teas and hot chocolate.

"School food reflects the larger culture, so if there's a proliferation of coffee shops in bookstores out in the world, it's going to happen in schools," said Jan Poppendieck, a sociology professor at Hunter College in New York who is writing a book on school meals.

Marketing students work as baristas in the Centennial cafe, which brings in about $200 a day. After expenses, the cafe should make about $10,000 during the school year, and that will be turned into scholarships for the 10 to 15 student employees.

The coffeehouse trend comes at a time when many school systems around country are removing junk food and soda machines.

"They're already providing horrible school lunches. Now they're adding to that with 800-calorie drinks," said Susan Levin, a registered dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Many students load up their coffee with sugar and cream or buy dessert-like coffee drinks, Levin said.

Terry Shrader, Centennial High principal, said the Parent Teacher Student Organization considered whether it was a healthy idea before opening the cafe.

"Then they came in one morning and watched how many students walk through the door with Starbucks or those Vaults caffeinated drinks," he said. "There's not any increase in the amount of caffeine they're drinking."

The cafe uses 2 percent milk, offers sugar-free syrups and decaf coffee, and doesn't sell doughnuts or danish, said Robbie Reed, the Centennial marketing teacher who oversees the coffeehouse.

John Witmer, who has run a before-school cafe at Hastings High School in Houston since he became librarian in 2003, said it is extremely popular with the 2,800 students.

Before the coffeehouse opened, "they were running about 6,000 visits per year to the library and checking out about 3,000 books," he said. Now, "we're running about 65,000 visits and checking out about 45,000 books."

He has used the money earned to eliminate library fines, he said.

On a recent school day at Centennial, 14-year-old Desmond Dwight, who works at the cafe, was sitting at one of the small round tables with friends. He said he visits the cafe "because I can get a cup of coffee and go sit and read a book."

Would he be reading in the library anyway if there were no coffee?

"I don't think so," he said, "because it would be boring just sitting here."

Comments

jonas 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm just picturing a Looney Toons-esque seen now, with a cup of coffee attached to a string, and these zombie kids are following it as it gets pulled along into a library.

busymom 7 years, 1 month ago

"Then they came in one morning and watched how many students walk through the door with Starbucks or those Vaults caffeinated drinks," he said. "There's not any increase in the amount of caffeine they're drinking."

And we wonder why kids say, but my friends are doing it. Another point, watch how many kids eat at McDonalds for lunch, guess since they are already doing that too, let's offer it at school. So I guess if they're already drinking the caffeine, let's profit from them. The schools only offer 2 % milk? Interesting because the coffee shops offer skim also. It would also be interesting to see how much the library fines went up, since one school uses the profit to get rid of them but there is no mention of how much they are.

janeyb 7 years, 1 month ago

My middle school library sternly prohibited food, drinks, talking and in general using the library. The librarians ran students out unless a teacher accompanied his or her class. They didn't want us there before school and they locked the door and ran as soon as the final bell rang. The high school library was the same way. I don't even know why this school system wasted money on libraries. We all ended up at the public library to research everything. Maybe it's not the coffee, but a welcoming atmosphere that attracts the kids. I think most high school parents would be happy to know their kid is at the high school library with a book and a cup of joe.

Confrontation 7 years, 1 month ago

"Would he be reading in the library anyway if there were no coffee?"

"I don't think so," he said, "because it would be boring just sitting here."

How sad.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.