Shhh! Don’t slurp: New café to open on first floor of Hunt Library

Staying in the library all night might taste a little better next fall when the Maggie Murph Café opens on the first floor of Hunt Library. The new campus eatery will serve coffee and grab-and-go sandwiches and salads.

Alumni, along with the University Libraries and Dining and Housing Services, are working together on the project.

“It’s a great partnership between the library and Dining Services,” said Tim Michael, director of Housing and Dining Services.

“Putting coffee shops in libraries is pretty common on college campuses, and they’re doing it in response to student demand,” Michael said.

Alumnae from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College, the University’s former women’s college that the café is named for, began expressing interest in funding the project last fall. Lami Grubb Architects have completed the design for the space, which features service and seating areas as well as dedication panels funded by alumni. Suzan Lami and Robert Grubb are both alumni of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture.

“[Margaret Morrison alumnae] are so excited to have a place in the library,” said Erika Linke, associate dean of University Libraries.

Housing and Dining Services have not yet selected the vendor for the new café. Michael plans for it to be open for longer hours than most campus dining locations, possibly from 7 am to 11 pm. The menu, he said, would be suited to serving breakfast and lunch blocks on the meal plan.

Michael is excited about the options at Maggie Murph. “The highlight will be the Starbucks coffee,” he said. “We’ll have a full cappuccino machine there.”

Dean of University Libraries Gloriana St. Clair hopes the café will increase student satisfaction with the library. “Our real vision for this is that the library will become an intellectual commons,” she said.

According to St. Clair, there are just over half a million visits to the library each year. Linke and St. Clair predict a positive impact on the campus community stemming from the increased convenience to studying the café will provide.

“Typically, when people have eaten, they do better,” said Linke. “We see how student needs have been changing. We’re looking as well to build some group study rooms.”

Additionally, the opening of the café marks a change in the library’s policy regarding food. Students will now be permitted to eat throughout the library, except in the fine and rare books room. Keeping the building clean will be a priority for the library staff, but they hope students will pitch in, Linke said.

At least one student on campus vis eager for Maggie Murph to open.

“I’ll be happier to spend a lot more time in the library,” said Jack Meade, a sophomore art student. “And with all that time in the library, I might even learn to read next year.”