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The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Bookstore to move off campus


Bookstore off campus GraphicRonnie Ruse

With the renovation of the ARH and Carnegie buildings into the new Humanities and Social Studies Complex, the Grinnell College Bookstore will be one of the first buildings torn down in the construction process and will not be housed in the new HSSC building. Although the plans are not finalized, the College plans to move the bookstore to a temporary location downtown during construction.

“Sites on campus are limited so we’re considering alternative spaces that are in town but walkable from campus,” Director of Media Relations Lisa Lacher wrote in an email to the S&B.

SGA also played a considerable role in the renovation process. Vice President for Academic Affairs Emma Lange ’16 sits on both the Building Projects Committee and the ARH/Carnegie Planning Committee as a representative for the student body.

“I would argue that Grinnell has had much more involvement [from students] than a typical college would in doing one of these building projects,” Lange said. 

Previously the College held open campus forums where students, faculty and staff could listen to ideas from architecture firms and provide feedback.

However, some student employees expressed frustration at how the administration handled the bookstore’s renovation. According to Caleigh Ryan ’17, a student employee at the College Bookstore, student employees at the bookstore were not part of the decision making process.

“If there’s a really good reason the administration has for wanting to move the bookstore off campus I don’t know it, because there has just been no dialogue about this whatsoever,” Ryan said. “Higher-ups at the bookstore have been consulted, but I don’t think any students were, which is kind of aggravating, because when it comes down to it we are the ones who will make or break the bookstore.”

Moving the bookstore to an off-campus location also raises questions about how the store will be able to make ends meet.

“We get so much business in that 10-minute gap between classes. Professors who work in the ARH will just pop in to buy something, students will run inside to grab something,” Ryan said.

The bookstore currently faces competition from used bookstores and online shipping companies like Amazon, and the biggest advantage it has over the competition is the convenience of its on-campus location.

“With the bookstore off-campus, students won’t go there hardly ever,” Ryan said. “And when there’s so many other appealing options for textbook buying, moving the bookstore off-campus is just going to make students much, much less likely to buy from us.”

Lange believes the increasing use of digital textbooks and other online resources may have played a role in the decision to move the bookstore off campus.

“It was never planned to be in the new building. I think the future of print books and the institution of print bookstores on campus [has] been changing quite a bit,” Lange said.

In addition to a temporary downtown location, a new permanent location for the bookstore is being planned in the neighborhood between downtown Grinnell and the campus, an area named the “Zone of Confluence.”

“We are committed to securing the best possible temporary location for the bookstore to move to this summer,” Lacher wrote. “As we move forward with developing a comprehensive plan for the Zone of Confluence, one of our primary goals will be to identify a prime site for the permanent bookstore.”

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