These days, university libraries are no longer places where students merely come to study or borrow books; they’ve turned into places that serve various purposes that may sometimes seem completely irrelevant to the traditional purposes of a library. This is especially true for the Underwood Memorial Library (UML), the school library located in Yonsei University’s International Campus in Songdo. Within UML, there are many facilities such as the school cafeteria ‘Y-Plaza’, a convenience store, and even a post office. But among them all, one of the most sought-after facilities is ‘Latte Flora’, a café located on the seventh floor. It is a go-to spot for students due to its tasty and unique selection of drinks and desserts, including its well-known ‘Jorripong Frappe’ and ‘Melting Cheese Pannini’, which they can enjoy while admiring the beautiful view of the campus from the window. This year, Latte Flora has initiated changes that have made the café an even more attractive place to visit. It has launched a small comic book café called ‘Yonhee Dong Dabang’ within Latte Flora, where visitors of Latte Flora can read comic books free of charge while sipping their drinks.
As soon as students reach the entrance of Latte Flora, they will find a shelf full of comic books in store for them to come and pick from. Many of the books are ones that come in series, including the comics ‘One Piece’, ‘Bakuman’, ‘One Punch Man’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, among numerous others. Students who wish to spend their time at Yonhee Dong Dabang can pick comic books of their preferences (up to 3 books are allowed per person at a time) and order from the Latte Flora. With the drink or snack that they ordered, they can then pick a seat and delve into their comic books. It is also a café policy that you cannot read books without purchasing at least one item from the cafe.
Although placing a number of comic books on some shelves at a café might seem insignificant, this decision has triggered a subtle yet notable change for the students at Yonsei University. In fact, a significant number of students – approximately 100 to 150 – visit the café every day, and around four groups of visitors borrow and read the comics every four hours each day. For such a large number of students, the change brought about by Latte Flora has become a gateway to relieve their stress. Students who are continually burdened with assignments and the pressure to do well on exams get the chance to relax for a while and take their minds off their daily troubles while immersing themselves in the imaginary world that unfolds in their comic books. In addition, Yonhee Dong Dabang has helped fill a void that all comic book lovers at Yonsei have long felt – a void created by the depressing fact that there virtually are no comic book stores near campus. Now, they can enjoy unlimited access to a wide variety of comic books at their very own school library.