Troost and Lansing Public Library bring coffee and books together

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (January 11, 2020) – When Lansing Public Library Director Debbie Albrecht was ready to launch a new type of digital library, she chose Troost (rhymes with “host”) as the host location.

It was a natural partnership. Not only is Albrecht at the coffee shop every morning for her own caffeine fix, but she recognizes that people often come there to read while they sip one of Troost’s signature beverages. “Coffee and books just go together,” said Albrecht.

The community coffee shop

“I like that Troost is offering the community more than just coffee,” agreed Troost owner Renae Fentress. She built that sense of community into the very brand of her establishment even before she opened in 2017—using a local bank for financing, a local shirt shop for Troost wear, and the local hardware store for building materials during the remodeling. In fact, Troost’s partnership with the Lansing Public Library began before the coffee shop opened—some of the seating is old library furniture that was restored and repurposed.

Fentress has found a variety of ways to continue supporting a variety of community ventures. A La Venderie vending machine offers small wares from local businesses, and La Venderie itself is a new small business, started by Alyssa Keene. “She asked if she could try it here,” and Fentress’s answer was yes. Paintings by local artists are available for purchase throughout the shop. And the meeting room is filled with creations by The Elim Entrepreneurs, an organization that “equips people with disabilities to realize and pursue their God-given potential.”

Troost is host to a La Venderie vending machine that is stocked with wares from local craftspeople. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The work of local artists is available throughout the coffee shop. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
A corner of the Troost meeting room is devoted to the Elim Entrepreneurs. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The hub of the Pop Up Library is a small network device that gives people instant access to the library’s collection of digital materials. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Coffee and books

But Friday, December 13, 2019, was all about the Pop Up Library, and library staff were on hand to answer questions and help people access the digital books.

The Pop Up Library is powered by a network device that gives people instant access to the Lansing Public Library’s collection of digital materials. No library card is needed, and no app is needed—readers can read their selections right in their browser.

When Troost patrons choose the Pop Up Library in their Wi-Fi settings, the next screen presents an opt-in check box. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

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Users can peruse the digital library shelves while they are at Troost and connected to the Pop Up Library. As they make their selections and check them out, those books are downloaded to their device, so the user is able to read them anywhere. Checking out a book also removes the image of the book from the digital shelf, so that other users are not able to choose it. Downloaded books remain on a user’s device for two weeks, and then they disappear and return to the Pop Up Library shelves.

Kelli Staley is Head of Technology for the Lansing Public Library. She will be gathering usage stats from the Pop Up Library—how many people are accessing the site, how many books are being checked out, which books are most popular, how often books are being returned early, etc. “Everything is anonymous though,” Staley assures. The stats provide information about books, but not about users.

On brand

Fentress is proud that entrepreneurial and community ventures—from craftwork vending machines to digital libraries—are what differentiate Troost from franchise coffee shops. “Chain stores can’t do stuff like this,” she says. “When you come here, you’re supporting way more than Troost. We offer a different level of involvement with our community. That philosophy is foundational to our operations.”

Troost is located at 18155 Roy Street and is open 7:00am–6:00pm Monday–Friday, and 8:00am–5:00pm on Saturdays.

Troost is located on Roy Street in Lansing, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

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