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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 28, 200612:00 PM EST

A cold beer at the Main Library?

by: Mike Sharkey

by Mike Sharkey

Staff Writer

In an effort to capitalize on its newest public building and the amount of meeting space available, the City is considering allowing the sale or consumption of beer and wine in the new Main Library.

Susie Wiles, Mayor John Peyton’s chief of communications, said the large conference room on the first floor of the $95 million building has proven popular for after hours meetings. Often, the organizers of those meetings would like to serve or sell beer and wine. The only thing preventing that to this point is a longstanding ordinance that requires the mayor’s signature of a request to use a public building for parties and meetings where alcohol would be served.

“For the longest time, alcohol was only allowed in certain City facilities, such as the stadium, the arena and the baseball park,” explained Wiles. “If you make a request of the mayor, he will sign a memo allowing alcohol at the other buildings.”

Wiles said the plan is to make the library both more accessible and a source of revenue. Events and meetings in which alcohol would be served wouldn’t occur during normal library hours and there’s talk of renting out the courtyard on the third floor for such things as parties and weddings. Those events could be fully-catered with food and drink, but no liquor.

The idea recently occurred to City officials and explains why the legislation has just been introduced.

“When it first opened, everybody was fixated on just the library part,” said Wiles. “It was not looked at as a meeting space.”

Other City buildings that could be used for meetings and events in which alcohol is served include City Hall and the Annex. Wiles said the fees for renting the spaces in the library are still being worked out and it hasn’t been determined whether those fees will be hourly or per event.

“We look at this as a money-making opportunity and a way to showcase the building to a different audience,” said Wiles.

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