UC Berkeley Library

Your Gifts at Work: The Free Speech Movement Cafe at Moffitt

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Thanks to Cal alum Steve Silberstein, Berkeley's library boasts a cafe that may be just as rare as some of the manuscripts enclosed within its walls.

  • The Free Speech Movement Cafe serves local, organic, and sustainable foods whenever possible, helping visitors begin to understand the issues implicit in their food choices.
  • Named for a famous period of the university's history, the cafe's posters and signage educate visitors about the Free Speech Movement and the values it expressed.
  • It matches the library's hours, including 24 hours a day during the ten days of finals.
  • And finally, the cafe plays a dynamic role in student education through presentations and panels on current issues, and through a daily newspaper display that presents the front pages from international newspapers.

A steady stream of visitors that fills the cafe's indoors and terrace seating testifies to the cafe's success in answering campus needs in all these ways.

A gift from Steve Silberstein, BA '64, MLS '77, provided funding for the cafe's construction in 2000. Silberstein worked at the University Library for 10 years, becoming head of the Library Systems Office. He left to co-found Innovative Interfaces, a computer software company which, among other things, provides access software to most public and many university libraries. Silberstein retired from the company in 2001.

"We owe no small debt to Mario Savio and the individuals who made up the Free Speech Movement," Silberstein said when he announced his gift in memory of Savio, who died in 1996. "Despite great personal and family sacrifice, they spoke up for the ideals upon which our society is based, and in which we all believe: a more just world, civil rights, and the removal of limitations on the free discussion and advocacy of ideas."

Silberstein feels strongly that his support of "one of the world's truly great libraries is something I imagine Mario would appreciate, given his love of learning and ideas." His gift also supported the digitization of the Free Speech Movement archives, and endowed library collections in the humanities.

Read more about your gifts at work:​
Restoration of the North Reading Room and Heyns Reading Room
Fiat Lux: Lighting the Library

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