by Liz Daube
Alcohol is officially allowed in the Main Library, but there’s no boozing next to the bookshelves for now. The library has tight guidelines for alcohol consumption, and the verdict on drinking at the planned Shelby’s Coffee Shoppe isn’t in yet.
The City recently amended an ordinance to allow alcohol to be served at private parties in the library’s conference facilities. That specific scenario is the only one allowed by the Board of Library Trustees so far, according to library spokeswoman Stacie Bucher. She added that other limitations may apply.
“Depending on the function, the person renting the space may have to pay for extra security,” said Bucher. “Somebody can’t just bring in their own. It has to be served by someone who is a food professional.”
The amended ordinance specifies that alcohol may be sold, served and consumed at any time in the Main Library – just like several other City-owned or -leased locations such as Alltel Stadium, the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena or the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. However, the Board has decided alcohol can only be served after library hours in the conference facilities, which are rented out to the public. Funds from the rentals are distributed by the Board.
Rules for serving alcohol at the planned library cafe, Shelby’s Coffee Shoppe, haven’t been established yet. Bucher said that the cafe’s owner, Steve Hicks, would need the permission of the Board. She said signs are already in place that tell patrons where they may eat and drink in the library, but alcohol is not currently allowed beyond the rented conference areas.
Hicks said he might eventually look into selling wine to pair with desserts.
“I don’t see a need for it right now,” he said. “But you may see that in the future.”
Even if he decides to ask for wine and beer privileges, Hicks said he knows there will be limitations.
“Barbara Gubbin (library director) has laid out the law that there will be no red wine in the library,” said Hicks. “But maybe a white zinfandel?”