Photo by Mariah Wilson

U of C bookstore returns to shelving by department following student backlash

By Matty Hume, January 23 2019 —

tudents at the University of Calgary let out a sigh of relief this year upon entering the campus bookstore. For the first time since 2015, textbooks are now organized within the bookstore by department and course number.

In 2015, returning U of C students were met with a surprising new layout at the campus bookstore. The 2015 change resulted in textbooks being organized alphabetically by author. The change sparked outrage from students who argued it only added confusion to the already stressful process of acquiring necessary textbooks. 

“I was one of the students that was angry about the complete alphabetical thing. Like, I hated it,” said fifth-year communications student Alisha Ostberg. “I don’t think that an author of a textbook is that relevant to a student. I don’t think we’re really paying attention to that so it made the process way more painful.”

According to John Campbell, the associate director of the U of C Bookstore, this year’s return to department-centred organization was the result of such student backlash. 

“We decided to return to shelving by course in response to our customers,” Campbell said. “We had originally changed to shelving by author to eliminate confusion with books used in multiple courses. Shelving by author allowed the book to be shelved in only one location in the store.”

While the author-centred organization was helpful in expediting the shelving process for the bookstore itself, students did not feel the benefits.

“I was just kind of flabbergasted by that decision,” Ostberg said. “I think the way they had it originally and what they’ve returned to is pretty good. I think they tried it and that’s totally fine, but they went back to a better way.”

The bookstore also recently completed space renovations over the past summer. According to Campbell, the renovations provided the bookstore with an opportunity to return to shelving by department and course. 

“Our customer feedback showed that they had preferred to have books shelved by course, making it easier to browse by subject,” he said. “It made sense to us to return to shelving by course and the renovation this past summer provided us the perfect opportunity to do so and the response has been very positive.”

“If you think about the flow of the bookstore in the first two weeks, the fact that no one can find anything anyway doesn’t really help,” Ostberg said. “I enjoy it being organized by class again.”



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