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ISSUE 117 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/7/2003

Letter to the Editor

By Melanie Meinzer
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 7, 2003

Dear Mess Editors,

In response to the story in the Oct. 31 edition of the Messenger, “Library considers caffeine:”

A coffee shop in the library would create more harm than good for Rolvaag Library and the hundreds of students who use it each day.

The Cage’s espresso bar is less than two minutes from the library. Although the Cage closes at 8 p.m., it is not the only option on campus for coffee. The Pause sells coffee and is open late. And what about the Essence of Bean Coffeehouse in Thorson or the Larson Coffeehouse? A coffee shop in the library is superfluous.

Proponents of this plan argue that a coffee shop in Rolvaag would provide an environment for socializing. But there are many places on campus that are suited to intellectual discussion, especially our Commons. Why must the library be disturbed for the sake of another coffee-centered meeting place?

A coffee shop would be a disturbance in the library. The purpose of Rolvaag should be to meet the research and academic needs of the St. Olaf community. Espresso bars are noisy, constantly grinding, brewing, and steaming. The additional clamor of a lounge full of people creates a situation that would threaten the studious atmosphere of a college library. Rolvaag should be a quiet space that provides a contrast to the tumult of the classrooms, residence halls, Commons and Stav Hall.

Rolvaag's collection includes materials that are not available anywhere else. Furthermore, much of Rolvaag recently received new carpeting. We should protect our collection and the library building by keeping food and drink out of the library.

I appreciate Dean Kneser's attempt to implement cultural trends on campus. His keen observation that “students like coffee” may be true, but it doesn't follow that a coffee bar should be built in the library. One might point out that students also like to sleep. Perhaps, as a friend suggested, Kneser should work to set up a dormitory with beds and pillows in Rolvaag. Students also like to watch cable television. Maybe the administration should install a big-screen T.V. in the library foyer.

A coffee shop might attract more people to the library. But St. Olaf students are bright enough to know the difference between a Google search and real academic research. Students will use the library's resources when they need to, even without coffee. If you're coming to the library to get a cappuccino, you're coming for the wrong reason.

– Sarah Everhart ‘04

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