If you have been reading my blog for a while, you would know that my contributing writer Mae has been absent. Well, she had to get through a rigorous high school schedule and now that she has graduated (PC Pirate class of ’21) she is studying at the great University of Oklahoma (proud 3rd generation Sooner). To help pay for this new adventure in education, she is working for food services as a barista. Her first semester she spent at The Hive, a coffee shop on south campus (more on it in another post) but now she is at The Bookmark Cafe in the first lower level of Bizzell Memorial Library.
This is just a small coffee shop, very similar to the ones you see in bookstores, where they have coffee, lattes, frappuccinos, along with light sandwiches and pastries. Last Sunday was my first visit and I was impressed, the space that had once been where the newspapers and magazines were kept was transformed into a study lounge with separate rooms for groups. Bookmark Cafe has a large area with tables and booths for group or individual study. They are part of Starbucks “We Proudly Serve” program, where they do serve up the same drinks that you can find at a Starbucks. Many of the pastries are cooked on site with the salads and sandwiches coming from Cow On the Fly. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the food yet, because of the snowstorm the previous week, the food delivery hadn’t come in yet. The double chocolate chip frappuccino that I had was awesome though. The staff is all students, they were all friendly and happy to be at Bookmark.
Now for some history- there was nothing like this when I was a student at OU in the early 1990’s (BA in Journalism, ’94). The coffee shop craze hadn’t hit Oklahoma yet. I guess there were some around but to me, coffee was just something that my grandparents drank. I had never heard of a frappuchino, latte, or macchiato. Bizzell Memorial Library was built in 1928 for the growing university and expanded, first in 1958, then again in 1982. Lower level 1 is part of the 1982 addition. Like I mentioned earlier, it held the periodicals. I used to sit at the microfilm readers and journey through the past with their newspaper collection. The Bookmark Cafe officially opened for the spring semester 1998 to give students a quiet place to study. The official grand opening was held on February 11, 1998 (I didn’t know this information until Wednesday of this week as I was researching, so the fact I’m publishing this on the same date 24 years later is just a coincidence). In August of 2013 construction began to transform the space into the study area it is now, Bookmark Cafe was temporarily moved but returned to its now larger location in September 2014 with a ceremony held on November 7, 2014, to mark the reopening of the lower level. In March 2020, it closed, not to reopen until January 2022.
Overall I will give them 5 strips of bacon, just for the fact that my child works there, but I would like to try more of their menu items. Project for the rest of the semester. So if you find yourself in Norman and near campus, stop into the historic library and grab a treat.