Council OK’s BYOB at WB library
by Rick DeClue · News · February 08, 2013

Soon adults in our community may be able to bring a beer or a glass of wine to a discussion on gardening tips at the West Branch Public Library.

The West Branch City Council on Monday voted to allow low-alcohol beverages at after-hours adult events.

Library Director Nick Shimmin requested a change in the city’s Alcohol Consumption and Intoxication Ordinance that would allow beer and wine, but not hard liquor, at certain events sponsored directly by the library or by the Friends of the Library.

Shimmin said alcohol would be:

• heavily controlled by the library and its staff

• only for events directed specifically at adults – with no children present

• only outside of normal library hours and operations

The request is timed for the launch of a new program, “Library after Hours.”

These Friday night gatherings will provide adults with an opportunity to discuss such topics as organization, personal finance and gardening with experts in a social setting at the library or on its grounds, Shimmin said.

The Friends of the Library might sponsor such things as wine- and cheese-tasting events for fundraising.

Current city code prevents consumption of alcohol in public spaces, with exceptions for premises covered by a liquor license, plus at Beranek Park, Town Hall and on the grounds of Cookson Community Center, as set forth by City Council resolutions. Cookson recently became private property when the city sold it to Lynch Excavating for development into housing.

The library will not need a liquor license because it will not sell alcohol or provide it. They simply will allow adults to bring their own.

Shimmin said that other libraries have established similar settings. The library continues to look for ways to expand programming to all age levels and to move beyond strictly traditional library functions toward more of a community center atmosphere.

Actual implementation of this change will require more time because the council tabled an accompanying resolution on who would establish specific guidelines. The city council could do it, or delegate the work to the Library Board of Trustees.

Council Members Mark Worrell and Colton Miller want the library board to work out the details and then submit them to City Attorney Kevin Olson for review.

Worrell said the city council, however, must reserve the right to review the guidelines because, “we have to be held responsible.”

At the end of the discussion, Fire Administrator Dick Stoolman asked “How does this affect the fire department?”

Worrell responded, “That’s a different issue.”

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