A good book and a cup of joe

Helm-Cravens Library’s newest addition may have brought studying back into style.

Java City, a coffee and pastry shop, has shown it provides more than just warm coffee to cold students. Since the shop debuted in August, student traffic in the library has jumped 20 percent.

Doug Wiles, a library security officer who regulates entry to the buildings, said 50,000 people entered the library last month, compared to only 40,000 people in the same month a year ago.

Library directors are excited and have more plans in the works, including live entertainment and an “Underground Lounge,” just below the shop.

At 9:30 tomorrow morning, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will celebrate Java City’s opening and mark the beginning of the new plans.

Java City manager Jim Sears is already imagining the new lounge, which will be located below the store next to the library’s government section.

“I can see this place full of people, especially in the winter,” he said.

Western students will deck the walls with artwork and photos. Lounge chairs and rugs have already been added, with more on the way.

Not many students are aware of the additions and plans, but promotions for events will start soon. Students who want to showcase their talents, like Scottsville senior Brian Roberson, could get a chance to perform there.

“I’m in a saxophone quartet, and we would be interested in playing over here,” he said.

A newly-formed group, the University Libraries Java City Live Entertainment Committee, will make the selections. They’re hoping to draw poets, artists and comedians, as well as musicians. They’ll also host an open mic night.

“The idea is to create an environment that will draw people to this part of campus and make the University Libraries a center for activities – art, culture, otherwise,” said Jack Montgomery, head of the committee.

Beginning next month, the lounge will host one-hour performances, once a week, around lunch time. A more formal event could possibly occur one evening a month. A public address system will be provided and, weather permitting, performances will be outside.

Library officials hope Java City will continue to be a worthwhile investment.

“The library is very happy to have increased usage,” Wiles said. “That was the reason the library wanted to have a coffee shop.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen and Bryan Snead at [email protected]