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The Daily Tar Heel

Campuses Consider Private Bookstores

After a mandate in 1995 prohibiting UNC-system schools from allowing external contractors to privatize bookstores expired during the summer, many schools have begun pursuing contractors such as Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, Inc., a company affiliated with the mega-chain Barnes & Noble.

UNC-Charlotte, one of the schools currently seeking proposals, formerly contracted with Barnes & Noble from 1986 to 1995, but the mandate halted the run.

Elizabeth Hardin, associate vice chancellor for business affairs at UNC-C, said the student store was not as organized before 1986, and that Barnes & Noble brought better access to materials, management and monetary compensation.

UNC-Greensboro, the only system school that escaped the 1995 mandate, has built a new student bookstore with the help of Barnes & Noble and Aramark Corporation, a food court corporation that also serves UNC-CH.

The bookstore, part of a 45,000-square-foot addition to Elliot University Center with a total tab of $22 million, was given $2 million and $3 million by Barnes & Noble and Aramark, respectively, for their spaces in the center.

UNC-Wilmington also is considering a transfer to a privatized bookstore.

Dick Scott, associate vice chancellor for business affairs at UNC-W, said privatizing bookstores can be a financially beneficial situation for the school.

"We're not in a desperate situation by any means," Scott said. "But financially it would be a better deal, and there would be improved services."

But while some employees on various campuses might be worried about losing their jobs to the corporate system, Stan Frank, marketing director for Barnes & Noble assured that people need not worry.

"We don't just come in there and start firing everyone," Frank said. "We usually retain the people and retrain them, and we keep the salary at its present level or with an increase."

But John Jones, director of Student Stores at UNC-CH, said there is no talk of privatizing campus bookstores.

"Our bookstores have always been public institutions," Jones said. "Some schools do it because maybe they lack the management or the administrators are more comfortable dealing with an external seller. It depends on the school."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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