In June, Seton Hill University’s (SHU) bookstore will change from its current provider, Follett (formerly Neebo), to a Barnes & Noble college bookstore. The university will be joining the other 750 colleges and universities that currently partner with Barnes & Noble College.
Besides an overall better experience, Barnes & Noble College will be offering students many opportunities. “They are going to open up bookseller positions to students, as well as offering internships,” said Hinkle.
“We really want the bookstore to be a place that you want to go to, not just twice a year to go buy books,” said Barbara Hinkle, vice president for administration and registrar at SHU. “When your family comes to town, that’s the place you always want to stop in, it’s all about the satisfaction of the experience.”
The transition initially began when the contract with Neebo, SHU’s former provider, was coming to an end. During the process to extend this contract, Follett bought out and took over Neebo. This is when SHU began to notice there was a problem that needed to be solved.
“We had some incidents in the fall with customer service issues,” said Hinkle. “Not with the bookstore staff, but the company itself, and it just wasn’t sitting well with us.”
Hinkle mentioned that around this time Barnes & Noble College contacted administration and said they were interested in partnering with SHU. “We looked into and spoke frankly with other schools who worked with both Barnes & Noble and Follett,” said Hinkle. “We became fonder and fonder of Barnes & Noble.”
“Barnes & Noble College is passionate about what we do – partnering with colleges and universities to support student and faculty academic success,” said John Chaump, regional manager at Barnes & Noble College. “We’re very excited to partner with one of the leading Catholic coeducational liberal arts universities in the U.S.”
Chaump has been working very closely with SHU and the bookstore committee to turn this into a reality. “(By) delivering a retail and digital learning experience that will support the University’s mission of student success.”
In January of this year talk began about what transitioning from one to the other would look like. Hinkle said that transitioning was originally planned to begin in spring, but that was going to be hard with graduation coming up.
“We had told Barnes and Noble we wanted to sign a contract with them, we just had to work out the details,” said Hinkle. This contract took place at the end of March. During this time, a mass email was sent to students, staff and faculty containing details about the transition and what actions needed to be taken.
“My emails don’t always get met with joy,” Hinkle said while chuckling. “So far, this one has gotten a lot of great feedback.”
“Barnes & Noble is my favorite place to go to study, so I’m really excited that one will be coming to campus,” said Gracie Smith, an education major here at SHU.
“Our goal is to create a vibrant social and academic hub on campus that precisely reflects Seton Hill’s mission and values and build relationships that enrich the university experience and extend ties long after graduation,” said Chaump.
Chaump mentioned a number of tools and technologies that Barnes & Noble College will bring to the school. “Ranging from online textbook adoptions on FacultyEnlight, to integration with the University’s learning management system,” he said, “Ultimately creating a complete support system for students, faculty and staff.
“In addition, the bookstore will also offer a refreshed mix of merchandise, including Griffins apparel and gifts,” Chaump added.
The current contract with Follett will expire in June and Barnes & Noble will be ready to step in at this point. “We will probably be closing for a little while at the end of June into July for inventory and set up,” said Hinkle, “But we should be back in business in a fairly smooth transition.”
Books rented through Follett need to be returned by June 15. Students planning on taking summer courses should purchase their books now to avoid complications during the transition from June to July. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to lookout for any sales in order to prepare for the transition.
The bookstore will remain open until the end of September, when it will close for a week or two in order for Barnes & Noble to do a complete redesign. During this time there may be a temporary relocation for necessary actions to take place.
In order to prepare for the transition, any Follett gift cards should be used by the start of June. The new bookstore will not accept them, however, Hinkle mentioned that Barnes & Noble gift cards are going to be accepted.
“With vast experience operating campus bookstores across the country, students and faculty of Seton Hill can expect a campus bookstore that reflects the University and will be a complete support system for students and faculty,” Chaump said.
“I am eager to get started,” said Hinkle. “We think this is going to be an enhanced experience for students, one that you can depend on, one that you can trust.”
“If we can get people more excited about it, I think it will offer more action around campus in a positive way,” Hinkle added