Only in Japan: Public library with Starbucks cafe

Posted at 04/02/13 10:35 AM

SAGA, Japan - A municipal library run by the operator of the Tsutaya movie rental and bookshop chain opened Monday in Takeo, Saga Prefecture, featuring a Starbucks cafe, in what is believed to be the first public-private partnership of its kind.

Tsutaya operator Culture Convenience Club Co., which has been tapped by the city to run the renovated library, which features a 50-meter-long open bookshelf, has introduced know-how gleaned from its running of major bookstores.

Renovation began from November last year, with CCC shouldering 300 million yen of about the total 750 million yen in cost for the building that also combines an outlet selling books and renting music and video software.

The Takeo municipal library lets users access more than 200,000 titles arranged according to subject categories such as hobbies and living, a departure from the "Nippon Decimal Classification" typically used by municipal libraries.

"The library will be the pride of citizens and will be the engine of the locality's growth," Takeo Mayor Keisuke Hiwatashi said.

To manage lending, CCC introduced its T Card customer loyalty card for the library, but the city also allows users to continue using their existing library card, partly in response to concerns that user data could be compromised for commercial purposes.

Users are permitted to bring coffee drinks inside the library while browsing magazines and books before purchasing them or checking them out.