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ISSUE 117 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/12/2004

By Melanie Meinzer
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 12, 2004

Dear Mess Editors,

Some things at St. Olaf should not be subject to the bottom line, regardless of the economies intended by an ever-vigilant college administration. Costs will go up, tuitions become increasingly difficult to finance and textbook prices become out of sight. But to outsource the college bookstore to such behemoths as Barnes and Noble or Follett, it seems to me, would end a long tradition of fine service, personal attention and products peculiar to the St. Olaf traditions and history. To keep the bookstore in college control is to assure that service will be efficient, personal and answerable to a clientele that appreciates good service and products suitable to its audience. I cannot see that revenues would be appreciably enhanced, but do know that the corporate mentality would not enhance service or a locally controlled attention to detail. Service to students and faculty, and to a large drop-in public, have always been hallmarks of the St. Olaf Bookstore. To put responsibility for running the store in some corporate office in New York would remove any local control and familiar service. There are better ways to control costs than to hazard the personalized service of our present bookstore to a faceless corporate entity with no stock in our traditions or understanding of localized needs.

If I want Barnes and Noble, I can drive to Burnsville to visit it, browse its prodigious shelves of books, but miss friendly clerks who take a personal interest in me and my wants. Ive had enough of mass marketing and huge stores with scarcely a clerk in sight. Who needs more on campus?

 Graham S. Frearr English Professor, Emeritus

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