UCSD to Build New Cafe on Library’s Second Floor

Geisel Library is set to open a new cafe this spring as part of the Geisel Library Revitalization Initiative, the University Office of the Librarian announced Thursday on their website. Named after the GLRI’s primary donor, Audrey Geisel, Audrey’s Cafe will be situated on the second floor East Wing.

The construction of the cafe is expected to be finalized mid-to-late May and opened to the public sometime thereafter. 

According to Brian Schottlaender, The Audrey Geisel University Librarian, building the cafe was a practical choice, and it will increase the friendly atmosphere found in Geisel.

“It really makes perfect sense, given that hundreds of students and other patrons are here studying, attending a lecture or a reading, or some other event, much of the time,” Schottlaender told the UCSD Guardian. “Having a cafe on the premises builds on the sense of community that already exists here.”

Initially, Audrey’s Cafe will be open between 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and have shorter hours over the weekend. During finals week, however, the vendor will stay open until midnight.

Furthermore, UCSD’s Sports Facilities will manage the shop. Despite being run by a campus department, the cafe will only accept Triton cash, not dining dollars.

In addition to Sports Facilities, Cafe Virtuoso, a local, independent roaster, and Bread & Cie, a San Diego bakery and cafe, will assist Audrey’s Cafe by stocking the cafe with food and drinks.

This involvement of local businesses is what sets the cafe apart from other on-campus coffee spots, Director of Sports Facilities Planning and Management Don Chadwick explained to the Guardian.

“[Audrey’s Cafe] will be quite a bit different [from Peet’s and Starbucks] because it will not have outside brand recognition,” Chadwick said. “In addition to that, it has a much more local feel to it.”

Chadwick also noted that the coffee shop will be largely staffed by UCSD students, creating a number of job opportunities on campus.

“We are going to be starting the operation with just one full-time career position and just over 50 student employees,” Chadwick said. “It is a wonderful thing, in our opinion, to be able to provide that many new student jobs.”

The idea of Audrey’s Cafe resonates well with Revelle College senior Brittany Factura, who expressed to the UCSD Guardian that having a coffee shop in Geisel will make it easier for students to buy drinks and food.

“A coffee shop in the library provides convenience to students who are studying and do not want to walk to a coffee shop, leave their belongings or leave their study spot for a long period of time,” Factura said. “It makes it really easy for people like me, who are locked up in Geisel for most of the day, to stay caffeinated, focused and amped to continue on their pathway toward success.” 

A second Revelle College senior, Sean Wenzel, also approved of the upcoming coffee shop because it provides an opportunity for students to take a break from studying.

“A cafe would also lighten the atmosphere at Geisel and serve as a place for students to escape from their academic stresses for a bit,” Wenzel added.

However, Muir College sophomore Yolanda Ruiz, stated that there could be some drawbacks to having the coffee shop located inside the library.

“There is definitely going to be noise problems, but it is on the second floor, which has noise anyway,” Ruiz said. “[There also] may be coffee stains all over the place.”

Generally though, the idea of a coffee shop in Geisel has gone over well with students, Library Communications and Engagement Director Dolores Davies told the UCSD Guardian.

“The Library has conducted many student surveys over the years, and without fail, the concept of establishing a cafe in Geisel nearly always comes up,” Davies said. “We think our students will be thrilled about Audrey’s, just as we are.”

The creation of Audrey’s Cafe was made possible by a $3 million donation from Audrey Geisel, a benefactor of the library and the wife of author Dr. Seuss, to the GLRI in July 2015.

Schottlaender stated that Mrs. Geisel’s gift to the GLRI, a project to improve the library’s interior, sped up the establishment of the cafe.

“Audrey’s generous gift, which is fueling the GLRI, has given us the ability to [build the cafe] on a faster timeline,” Schottlaender said. “The GLRI is motivated by our belief that this iconic building needs to be as inspiring on the inside as it is impressive on the outside and meet the learning, studying and research needs of today’s students and faculty.”

Audrey’s Cafe is one of many updates that will be made to Geisel under the GLRI. The library will also be outfitted with new carpets, furniture, finishes and technological enhancements.