June 19, 2018 | Connor Bechler

Three people hold full coffee mugs together in triangle above grass.
Photo Credit: Lyric Floria

A new fragrance will waft over Calvin’s Commons Lawn next spring: the rich scent of freshly brewed coffee. With work beginning interim of 2019, Calvin—partnering with Peet’s Coffee—is set to open a campus coffee shop located on the north-facing side of the Hekman library.

Stemming from a student senate push to improve on-campus coffee, issues with the location of Calvin’s current coffee shop—the Fish House—and from a need to update the aging library, the planned renovations will, according to director of the physical plant Russell Bray, both satisfy current student needs and set a blueprint for the further evolution of the library.

The location is “already a natural gathering space for students,” Bray said, “at a main pedestrian corridor, with traffic coming from the chapel, from the commons, [and] from the CFAC.” Additionally, Peet’s, a popular west coast coffee house, is giving wide leeway to Calvin on the design process, which Bray cites as a key benefit of their selection, considering the design of the coffee shop will also inform the renovation of the library.

John Witte, dean of students, is excited to partner with Peet’s for a host of other reasons. He listed their previous experience partnering with colleges, uniqueness to Michigan, commitment to environmental responsibility, and general high quality as major draws; “I think students appreciate well-crafted coffee drinks. There’s an art to coffee production, and Peet’s gets that.”

The decisions to select both Peet’s Coffee and the new coffee shop’s location were not, however, made unilaterally. “We had a cross- divisional team commissioned by several cabinet members to identify a possible location and identify a possible business partner,” said Witte. This team was made up of representatives from student senate, financial services, the physical plant, advancement, technology services, and the dean of the college and seminary libraries.

In addition to choosing a partner in line with Calvin’s values, the team also aimed for the coffee shop to be the first step in a larger effort to reshape how students approach the library.

David Malone, dean of the college and seminary library, acknowledged that “many people think of libraries as quiet and stable, even non-dynamic places.” “But,” he added, “libraries have always been adapting. Adding a coffee shop to the Hekman Library isn’t revolutionary as much as evolutionary.”

Malone is excited that “the second floor of Hekman Library will become a busier and louder space as it becomes a primary user space on campus,” and views the addition as “helping to reinforce the library’s centrality.”

According to Bray, libraries are shifting from “place[s] to show up, get your book, go to your carrel, put your head down and be quiet,” and instead are becoming “places to gather, places to collaborate, places to share ideas, and places to creatively use space and technology.

Bray added: “the coffee shop will be the most tangible and easily accessible representation of that.”

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