Op-ed: Cons to a library café on campus

Allison Mueller

There has been a growing call for the creation of a coffee shop or a similar food service operation in the Darrell W. Krueger Library. In November the Student Senate passed a resolution recommending such an amenity and a library café has been a factor in the bidding process for the new campus food service contract, which is currently under consideration.

A library food service operation is a mistake. A big one.

A café will come at the cost of library services. Imagine doing your office work with a coffee maker grinding in your ear. The noise and aromas make it impossible to be an effective employee and the café will disrupt students attempting to study. Far from making the building more accessible, a food operation will actually worsen the user experience and therefore discourage students from using the library.

The proposed café will also degrade the library’s academic environment by mutating the culture of the building from an academic space and into a recreational one. If the library becomes indistinguishable from domestic spaces like residence halls and leisure spaces like the student union then the library loses the very quality that makes it a unique asset to the campus.

A library food service operation is also at odds with Winona State’s sustainability initiatives. A café creates a great amount of waste in the form of unrecyclable cups and disposable containers. This institution cannot continue to pride itself on ecological stewardship if it builds campus services that are contrary to that mission.

More than anything, a library food service operation is wholly unnecessary. Kryzsko Commons, whose hours largely overlap with the library and provides a wide array of food options, is only about one hundred yards from the library entrance. At present, students are allowed to bring food from the union to the library. There is simply no need to build an entirely new operation within shouting distance of a perfectly adequate facility.

Perks like coffee shops are gimmicks and gimmicks are an admission that we’ve ceased trying to improve our facilities and services. This is a university, not a resort. We are in the business of knowledge not amenities. Sacrificing academic services and compromising our intellectual culture so that students can buy a muffin is a betrayal of the mission of the library and the university.

Sincerely,

Nathan Wardinski

Library Technician, Darrell W. Krueger Library