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Student senate learns of bookstore renovations

| Thursday, April 27, 2017

David Werda, the director of Hammes Bookstore and retail operations, spoke to student senate Wednesday evening about future changes to the campus bookstore.

“We’ve developed a list of goals and objectives over the last couple of years in terms of the new vision for your campus bookstore,” he said.

Werda said the importance of the bookstore cannot be overstated, considering Notre Dame is the second most visited tourist attraction in the state of Indiana.

“You can think of the Notre Dame bookstore as that tourist attraction’s gift shop, and it reflects that on an annual basis in terms of foot traffic and revenue,” he said.

The challenge is to design the bookstore to cater to both the enormous crowds on football weekends and students on the average school day, Werda said.

“What we’re looking to do is to create a space that serves both those guests who visit on an annual basis, but equally important, the students, the faculty and the administration of the University,” he said. “We need to create spaces within the bookstore that are not interrupted on those six or seven weekends a year during football season.”

Werda said in response to the concern that the bookstore focuses too much on the tourists and sets “an unwelcoming presence for the campus community” that the bookstore’s new design will feature more academic and social spaces for students.

“We want to create a space that is more interactive,” he said. “Having places where you can sit and study, where you can come and study in small groups.”

In addition, the bookstore will be reorganized to adjust to the changing times, Werda said.

“We’re taking our general reading books, those stacks and stacks of books where ten years ago it was important to have a library of books for people to browse, and moving them upstairs,” he said. “In terms of ‘I’m going to go in and buy a New York Times bestseller,’ that’s not how this business is going anymore.”

Further, Werda said women’s apparel, a growing market for the bookstore, will expand and occupy more wall space on the second floor, and gifts will move downstairs. Religious gifts, one of the bookstore’s most unique draws, will remain front and center, he said.

“The religious section is very much the soul of the bookstore,” he said. “There are very few places, if any in this day and age, where you can buy most of the religious things that we sell.”

During the session, Werda received student input and feedback regarding the bookstore’s renovation. Claire Saltzman, the Ryan Hall senator, requested an earlier opening for the Einstein Brothers Bagels location in the bookstore.

“For 8 a.m. exams and 8:20 classes, the 8 a.m. opening time does not give students enough time,” Saltzman said.

Christian Femrite, the Morrissey Manor senator, asked for lower prices on everyday items, such as toiletries.

“I understand the bookstore has the Notre Dame logo on everything, but for the stuff students come in to use, I think it would be more appropriate to have lower prices,” he said.

Werda said the goal is for the renovation to start after reunion weekend and be completed when students return in August.

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