For a lifelong Canberran, being able to reopen the doors of the cafe in one of the city's most iconic buildings has been a dream come true.
Tracy Keeley flung op
"It's a new era for Bookplate, but ... many of the favourite faces at Bookplate, including the head chef, kitchen staff and floor staff, will also be part of our new launch into the future," she said.
Ms Keeley won the contract after the cafe's long-time owner, Rachel Romney-Brown, opted not to renew the contract.
Ms Romney-Brown ran the cafe for 14 years, and planned to close on December 7, but unexpected costs from the transfer of the contract forced her to close the business a month early and go into voluntary liquidation.
Ms Keeley said the new-look Bookplate included a seasonal menu with blackboard specials and a in-house pastry chef. Its smaller, downstairs sibling Paperplate would serve fresh, pre-made sandwiches, quiches and cakes.
"We've got beautiful fresh-pressed juices and smoothies, and I think we're the only ones in the Parliamentary Triangle that are doing that," she said.
"We're trying to make Bookplate more of a cafe-restaurant, so that's the point of difference within the triangle. I think most of the [other institutions] tend to have a cafeteria-style model."
She has also installed large bookcases filled with books and vintage knick-knacks, in keeping with the library's history.
The atmosphere is reminiscent of a library den, "with books and typewriters and things that relate to authorship and penmanship," she said.
There will also be other design updates to come over the next six months, and Ms Keeley said she planned to have an official opening for the new-look Bookplate in February.
Ms Keeley most recently ran the cafe in the Department of Environment in the John Gorton Building.