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Webster’s Set for Spring Revival in New Location

It’s a joyous time for all bookworms, hipsters, coffee connoisseurs, tea drinkers, poets and music junkies in the State College area. Why, you ask? Because the well renowned and greatly missed Webster’s Bookstore & Café is almost back in business!

As a student who transferred from one of Penn State’s many branch campuses, I came here in the Fall of 2010 hearing stories about the sweet tea sanctuary for book cuddlers. Being a geek myself, I was ready to check the place out! That was until I found out it was closed. So the heartfelt stories of this chill downtown area spot became a myth to me.

Luckily, Webster’s will be officially back in business very, very soon. It’s in a new location, with more space, a greater tea selection and most importantly – a larger variety of books.

I visited the 133 East Beaver Avenue location on Wednesday, and had the liberty of speaking to the enthused owner Elaine Meder-Wilgus. Although the construction is not complete and the heat not totally in the works, you can still envision exactly what the new Webster’s is striving to become.

“We’re shooting to open on February 24th. But there are a lot of different factors that we need to take care of; construction, permits and the furnace,” said Elaine. However, she admits that even though the place isn’t finished yet and there are still unopened boxes of books around, customers come in all the time, ready to explore the store. I was certainly one of those people! The new location doesn’t look bad at all. In fact, the abundance of books and cluster of shelves is quite welcoming for a book finder such as I.

Ah, yes! I mentioned the new additions. For one thing, Stax and Trax will be resurrected along with Webster’s. The used vinyl store will be housed within the cafe. In addition will be some new vegan and vegetarian food choices, including hot sandwiches and breakfast burritos.

Yet, what I find personally exciting are the open mics and poetry readings that will take place when it reopens. This will be open to singers, songwriters, poets, story tellers and actors, and any other artistic or non artistic soul. She even has a haiku contest up her sleeves that sounds like fun. But I’ll help her keep that one a surprise.

Elaine also said there will be a platform-stage area for performances, and a play area for children. “We’ll be able to do a lot more things that the previous location wouldn’t allow us to, “ she said. The Allen St location was much more cramped, supposedly. Thankfully, the new Beaver location is spacious and luxurious.

Most importantly, Webster’s is here again to serve as our place for tranquility, entertainment and relaxation. The HUB just doesn’t cut it, and the library does not have enough nooks and crannies or cool points to be a legit chill spot. Also, most places downtown are not eclectic enough to bring diverse people together. Or worse – we’d have to buy something. “ A lot of places treat college students like a commodity. You guys are a part of this town, and I want to give you the experience of being apart of a community,” Elaine said.

Elaine said that this mental and social release is meant to cater to college students and beyond. I can definitely respect that. All too often, people treat us college students as the infectious and toxic majority that brings forth drama, drunkenness and disturbance. Thus, the Centre County inhabitants are sometimes hesitant to affiliate themselves with us. With Webster’s, we can all experience integration. “ Webster’s is a place for people to gather,” Elaine said. We have customers from 2 to 90. And that’s what the real world is like; you get to choose the people you want to hang with.”

One month till Webster’s is ours again? I can dig it. And I can certainly wait. I smiled to myself and almost skipped out of the bookstore, clutching my not-so-new but precious, Sonia Sanchez book.

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