By Carol Johnson Pfefferkorn* and Michele Bourdieu
Michigan Tech's Library Café student baristas Anit Nayak of India, left, graduate student in mechanical engineering, and Elaheh Gorgin of Iran, graduate student in math, say they are happy with the expanded hours at the café, which is usually quite busy and popular with both faculty and students. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)
HOUGHTON -- The J.R. Van Pelt Library Café at Michigan Tech has expanded its hours, thanks to student requests. The Library Cafe is now open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays, says Dining Services Director Matt Lean.
Anit Nayak, Michigan Tech graduate student in mechanical engineering, says he enjoys working as a barista in the café and welcomes the expanded hours. On Friday afternoon, Nov. 11, just a day before the new hours would begin, several café customers kept him busy making espresso coffee drinks and serving treats -- like chocolate cupcakes and more. Assisting him was Elaheh Gorgin of Iran, graduate student in math.
"It's fun," Nayak said. "It's busy most of the time."
Ellen Marks, director of the J.R. Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library, said the number of library users has risen by 15 percent over the past two years -- and longer café hours will accommodate increased public traffic, as well as students from other colleges, such Gogebic Community College.
The café, which opened in August 2009, enhances one role of the Library, which is to bring students, faculty and staff together for meetings, study and conversation.
"The café helps us send the message that the Library is the academic heart of the campus," Marks says.
Audrey Mayer, professor in Forestry, was meeting with Friday's guest speaker, Dr. Virginia Dale of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who had just given a talk on sustainable bio-fuels, and Laura Matkala of Helsinki, Finland, graduate student in forestry. All three were enjoying gourmet tea and the bright, cheerful atmosphere of the café -- which is also quiet enough for meetings and study, since it is located just inside the library's main entrance, off to the left of the circulation desk and lobby area.
Michigan Tech Forestry Professor Audrey Mayer, left, meets with guest speaker Virginia Dale of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, center, and Laura Matkala of Helsinki, Finland, graduate student in forestry, after Dr. Dale's Nov. 11 presentation, "Steps toward sustainability of bioenergy."
"This is usually where I prefer to meet -- because of the caffeine," Mayer said.
She was enjoying a cup of organic chai.
Just before his meeting, Forestry student Carl Leonard of Detroit filled a cup with Starbucks French Roast coffee to help himself wake up.
Forestry student Carl Leonard of Detroit chooses the Library Café's Starbucks French Roast to help him wake up before a meeting.
"I went fishing this morning and have a meeting now," he said.
Since the Library Café is also connected to the campus wireless network, students can bring their laptops and work while enjoying coffee or tea -- or even a sandwich for lunch.
Dan Freiberg of Grand Rapids takes advantage of the campus wireless connection as he works on materials science with his laptop in the Library Café.
Dan Freiberg of Grand Rapids, who is studying materials science and engineering, was hard at work with his laptop. He likes the light from the large windows and the view of campus, Freiberg noted.
Picking up a chocolate cupcake for a snack was Rudiger Escobar of Guatemala, Ph.D. candidate in volcanology. Escobar said he comes to the café "pretty often, especially when I'm feeling groggy."
Rudiger Escobar of Guatemala, Ph.D. candidate in volcanology, stops in the Library Café for a chocolate cupcake, a quick snack for carry-out on a Friday afternoon.
During the week, the Library Café continues its regular hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.
By the way, Keweenaw Now's editor sampled the Cappuccino, and it was just right -- with a dark chocolate truffle on the side!
* Guest writer Carol Johnson Pfeffercorn recently moved to the Keweenaw from the Menominee area. In addition to writing, she is assisting Keweenaw Now with advertising and public relations.