New Harper café stays open late for bleary-eyed students

The coffee shop is intended to counterbalance the intense atmosphere of the adjoining 24-hour study area, with comfortable chairs and large tables.

By Carolanne Fried

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A late-night café and study space opened on the third floor of Harper Memorial Library this quarter, giving students on campus a new alternative to more serious library study spaces.

Common Knowledge, as the new café is called, is located on the third floor of Harper and is open from 2 p.m. until 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, designed to meet the needs of late-night studiers.

“We wanted to create a place with students’ needs in mind, and what students want is a late night coffee shop that serves full meals and espresso,” said fourth-year Suzanne Adatto, who interned over the summer helping with the redesign.

The coffee shop is intended to counterbalance the intense atmosphere of the adjoining 24-hour study area, Adatto said, with comfortable chairs, large tables, and décor that will continue to evolve as project managers and employees decide what to do with the space.

“You have to study so much at this school, so you should be able to do it in a comfortable and inviting manner,” she said.

Common Knowledge will also serve as an area where students can socialize after many of the other campus coffee shops close. “I kind of want it to be a post-Cobb Cobb, where you can come hang out and get a meal after classes,” said third-year Matthew Carville, Common Knowledge assistant manager.

The connection between Cobb and Common Knowledge extends to more than just space and potential clientele. Due to budget restrictions, Cobb can no longer give out food left on its shelves at the end of the day, so the unused merchandise will instead go to Common Knowledge where it will be sold at a discount, Carville said.

While many Cobb frequenters may turn to Common Knowledge for their after-hours needs, the new coffee shop will not be just a carbon copy of the older establishment, in part because of its unique location.

“This café has a different atmosphere because of what we have to do to accommodate the college advisers,” said fourth-year and general manager Ana Tevzadze. Because academic advisers work on the floors above and below the coffee shop, it plays mostly jazz and classical music before 5 p.m. every day to keep down the noise.

Common Knowledge also hopes to become a hub for student artwork and creativity. “All of the open mic stuff will be here from now on,” said Carville, who is also hoping to talk to FOTA about displaying student art year-round.

Over the course of the next few weeks the area will see ongoing change and development. Managers and employees are especially open to student suggestions, and there are many places around the shop with comment cards.

“We’re waiting to see what will happen to the space, and it will be fun to see what personality develops,” Adatto said.