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Bookstores on each campus prepare for updates

As a part of an agreement with Follett, every bookstore across the USF system will be renovated. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Students will have a new spot for studying as the USF Bookstore undergoes major renovations.

The project, set to be completed June 23, is designed to bring more tables and seating areas for students while adding a modernized look with new signs, furniture and LED lighting.

Bookstore Director Nando Padula said that part of the agreement with Follet was to renovate all of the bookstores across the USF system, including St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee.

Nancy Santiago, director of auxiliary services, said the total contribution from Follett for renovations was $1.175 million for all stores, — in which $652,000 of it will be allocated for the Tampa campus — $253,000 for the St. Pete store and $270,000 for the rest of the stores as needed, including Sarasota-Manatee, USF Health and USF Bull Stadium Store.

The first floor will be designated for clothing and apparel while the second floor will feature tables and a study area alongside regular books, and the basement will feature class materials, including textbooks, access codes and any other items related to academics.

Prior to the renovation, textbooks were organized by courses. Since the spring, all the textbooks were managed  by the author’s last name, thus shrinking the footprint and having more space available to add new features.

As a result of the renovations, the atrium will no longer be a retailer area. According to Padula, the center counter will be replaced with soft seats and tables with plug-in stations for students to use their computers, study and hang out. The retailing area will be moving to the cafè space, making it a one-stop shop.

“We want to create an environment where students feel welcome to come in and grab a bite to eat and study in between classes,” Padula said.

Santiago said Follet performed research where student feedback was considered regarding the addition of more study areas inside the bookstore.

“We found the need for more seating opportunities by receiving feedback from our student body,” Santiago said. “Changing the merchandise and giving the bookstore a fresh new look was necessary after the change in contracts (last year). The store was a little outdated and it had a lot of potential to bring new features and make it more modern and welcoming to students.”

Besides the addition of more seating areas, some of the walls will be painted with USF colors, new metal racks will be added and the carpet of all floors will be replaced.

With the renovation, the bookstore’s hours of operation will not change.

After a 15-year contract with Barnes and Nobles expired last year, Follett Higher Education took over the USF Bookstore with plans of renovation in mind since the beginning.

“We want to change the mentality that students only come to the bookstore in the first week of classes to buy their books,” Santiago said. “We want to be more like a destination where they want to come here to socialize and hang out with their peers because everything that we are doing is to improve their experience and bring a modern, welcoming space for everyone.”