Office of Public Affairs
(315) 312-2265
March 13, 2002
CONTACT: Mary Beth Bell, 312-4232
OSWEGO -- It's late on a cold winter night at SUNY Oswego. A student has been studying for hours and feels like she needs a break. She bundles up, walks across campus to have a cup of coffee and relax in a comfortable environment.
Her destination? A cozy cafe in Penfield Library.
This scenario will become reality in the near future, thanks to a pair of donors and some creative thinking by members of the campus community, college officials say.
The renovation will be made possible by $150,000 in donations -- half from longtime Oswego Alumni Association board member Lester Gosier, the other half from an anonymous donor. Gosier is a member of Oswego's class of 1937 -- "the giving class," as he calls it -- who taught high school physics for 40 years.
Work is expected to begin by summer 2003 to turn Penfield's group study room in the building's southeast corner into an inviting cafe, notes Director of Libraries Mary Beth Bell.
"I think it's a wonderful room for it," Bell says, gesturing toward the large windows that face Hart Hall, Hewitt Union and other busy campus buildings. "It's a very attractive area. You could sit with your morning coffee and watch the world go by."
After renovation, the nearly 3,000-square-foot area should remind visitors of a cosmopolitan coffeeshop, similar to one in a Borders or a Barnes & Noble, Bell says. Accessories could include hanging lighting, floor tiling and throw rugs. Designs call for a mix of sofas and chairs, cafe seating and stools at a coffee bar.
Other amenities could include artwork, a television tuned to CNN, wireless computer connections and a rack with popular magazines and newspapers, she says. Bell hopes to be able to allow students to bring materials from the library into the cafe.
A new archway as the entrance to the cafe and a serving area unfolding to the left of the entryway are included in the initial design by JCM Architectural Associates. Plans also include a conference room area where faculty and student groups could have meetings, Bell says.
Campus representatives have looked at other SUNY campuses that have successfully integrated on-campus library cafes, such as Brockport, Buffalo and Geneseo. "The space we have is probably better than other areas I've seen out there," she says.
The addition of the yet-to-be-named cafe can help make Penfield a more inviting destination for students, Bell explains. She reports that attendance at Geneseo's library increased 300 percent in the years following installation of computers, a cafe and comfortable seating areas.
"I think it can be something really, really nice," Bell says.
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