MAILED: Dec. 14, 2000
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire intends to outsource the operation of its bookstore and textbook rental program to Barnes & Noble College Bookstores the countrys largest academic retailer early next year, Andrew Soll, vice chancellor of Business and Student Services, announced this week.
Barnes & Noble is expected to begin operating UW-Eau Claires bookstore and textbook rental program in February 2001, under a contract continuing through June 30, 2007.
We are excited about the possibility of working together to create a vibrant, compelling and inviting retail concept for UW-Eau Claire, said Janine von Juergensonn, vice president of Barnes & Noble College Bookstores. We feel the bookstore has great potential to grow sales, product mix and increase services. We can also bring a lot of benefits to the textbook rental program and make it more cost effective for the university.
UW-Eau Claires Bookstore Evaluation Committee which included students, faculty and administrators recommended that the bookstore and textbook rental programs be outsourced. Of the three proposals received this fall, the committee determined that Barnes & Nobles proposal best meets the needs of the campus community, Soll said.
There was unanimous agreement on the committee that outsourcing offered the campus the prospect for more responsive bookstore and textbook rental programs that would benefit from the extensive textbook program experience and national retailing expertise that Barnes & Noble offered, Soll said when forwarding the committees recommendation to Chancellor Donald Mash.
Being associated with a national company will provide the bookstore with more purchasing power, increasing the amount and types of goods and services available to students and faculty, said Dr. Susan Haugen, a faculty member on the Bookstore Evaluation Committee. Being part of a much bigger network will benefit the entire university, Haugen said. I think this will be very good for students and faculty.
Barnes & Noble will reconfigure the bookstore, including a new layout, extra cash register counters, new display merchandise, accent carpeting and attractive promotional signage, von Juergensonn said. An enhanced trade department will feature new releases, discounted books and a prominent display of faculty authored and local interest books. And comfortable seating will be added to invite customers to browse in the bookstore, she said. Most of the remodeling will take place this summer, she said.
Barnes & Noble can help the bookstore become a more integral part of our campus more of a destination for students, said Stefanie Pelke, a student representative on the committee. The management of the bookstore will be in touch with students and be involved with student organizations keeping up-to-date about student needs and wants.
UW-Eau Claires textbook rental system will continue, but with Barnes & Noble managing the program within university policies, said Haugen, who chairs the universitys Instructional Resource Rental Committee. The textbook rental will be managed by a new company but the IRR committee will have oversight responsibility, just as we do now, she said.
Students will see few obvious changes in the textbook rental system, though Barnes & Noble will automate and streamline the record keeping and inventory control functions, von Juergensonn said, noting that UW-Eau Claires textbook rental system may become a prototype for programs at other colleges and universities. Hopefully, the companys purchasing power and expertise in the textbook area will enable the rental program to offer a larger array of more current books, Soll said.
While UW-Eau Claire will be the companys first experience with a large textbook rental program, Barnes & Noble has extensive experience working with used textbooks, von Juergensonn said. As the nations largest distributor of used textbooks, we are so committed that we are the only college bookstore operator with a specialized vice president and support staff dedicated to used textbooks, von Juergensonn said.
Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, headquartered in New York City, serves nearly 3 million college students and thousands of faculty members through 400 college bookstores in more than 43 states. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Northwestern, MIT, University of Chicago, Ohio State, University of Michigan and the Penn State University system are among the colleges and universities the company serves. In Wisconsin, Barnes & Noble serves UW-Waukesha and Lakeshore Technical College.
The cornerstone of our college bookstore operation is to offer great service and convenience to all members of the campus community, von Juergensonn said. Service includes having the right book on the shelf at the right time, creating a book culture on campus with trade departments that reflect the course curriculum, and stocking a variety of emblematic and school spirit merchandise items.
UW-Eau Claire has operated its own textbook rental system since the university was founded in 1916 and has operated its own bookstore since it was established in 1959. The decision to outsource the operations was in response to an earlier student initiative and student-directed study recommending outsourcing, Soll said, noting that Student Senate representatives were among those who support the action.
I have come to the conclusion that the Student Senate, and thereby the student body, supports whatever recommendation the Bookstore Review Committee brings forth, Justin Hentges, student body president, said in a memo to Soll. I believe that the students at this university have had ample time and opportunity to express their views and opinions on outsourcing to the committee, Student Senate and administration of the university.
Soll said all classified staff currently employed by the bookstore and textbook rental programs will continue to work on campus, either in the bookstore or in other units. Barnes & Noble will interview part-time employees, including students, to determine how they might fit into the companys staffing plans, he said.
Hiring students to work in the bookstore will be a priority, and the company offers a well-established student internship program, von Juergensonn said, adding that most of Barnes & Nobles senior management started as student employees.
There will be many benefits to students, Pelke said. But above everything else, the outsourcing will benefit students because it means the university can focus more of its efforts on what it does best educating students.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Dec. 14, 2000