A partnership forged between the Martinsville branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library and the Friends of the Blue Ridge Regional Library, which supports the library system, made the new ‘A Quiet Cup With Friends Coffee Bar’ a possibility.
“We just thought this was a great project to have,” Leandio Gravely, Library Program Coordinator, said of the bar that is located in the Martinsville branch of the library. The bar offers visitors a choice of light, medium, and dark roast coffee and hot chocolate. The cost is a $1 donation to the Friends organization at the circulation desk.
“Once they go up and make the donation to the Friends, and specify” which type of product they want, customers are given a cup and a lid, Gravely said. “You get your cream and sugar, and a pod of whatever you select.”
Step-by-step instructions on how to use the Keurig are available beside the machine. “It also has a LED screen to walk you through the process of making the drink,” he added.
Gravely said patrons can sit in the coffee area to enjoy their drinks and read a book, or providing the lid remains on the cup, may walk around the library.
In addition to the Friends, Gravely said several anonymous donors contributed to the project.
Tammy Cope, manager at the Martinsville branch, also applied for and received monies from Dr. Bob & Kay Finch Donor Advisor Fund through the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia.
All of the books on display in the café area are for sale from the Friends book collection. Hardback books are $1 each and all paperbacks are 50 cents unless otherwise marked. There also are cookbooks and other coffee table literature available for purchase.
Gravely said the idea of the café area came up about two years ago, but it didn’t seem like the right time to cultivate the idea until recently.
As the project came to fruition, a wooden floor was installed in the area designated to be used as the bar. The walls were painted, a design plan was used for furnishings and a logo was installed to complete the new space, officials said.
The new space provides an area “where we can connect with local,” Gravely said. “We want to do that because it’s important. We’re a community, and it’s important for the community to work together.
“This is our most modern” project, Gravely said, adding a tagline for the project could be “Coffee with a Cause, because you are actually helping to support the Friends who help support the Blue Ridge Library system. All the proceeds go back to the Friends” group.
Mary Campbell Stromire, a group member, said funds raised by the group are primarily used to sponsor the summer reading program for children, but also help other projects in the library system.
The reading program costs $5,000 “for a summer for all of the libraries,” she said.
Gravely said the 2022 summer reading program was attended by 5,369 children and teens.
“We have bought the book drop outside, we have done a bench at the Ridgeway library,” Stromire said of other investments the group has made into local library facilities. “We’ve also made a sizable donation to the Bassett expansion that’s just starting.”
The group also purchases items to supplement the library’s budget, stimulates the public use of libraries, and enhances literacy, drama, and educational programs.
In short, “we just support anything that a library cannot afford,” Stromire said.
One thing is certain, according to Gravely.
The bar has “been a big welcome addition to the library,” he said. “A labor of love.”