Bookstore needs communication

For the second semester in a row, the new bookstore in the Student Union has tripped up at the start of a semester, causing hold-ups for students, professors and even the mailroom.

Before this semester, students could access textbook lists through the Pitt Portal far in advance of the next semester. Since neither the new bookstore nor professors could make changes to any student’s portal, this function did not work.

This problem should have been foreseen, and professors should have been notified. That way, professors might have been able to, for example, send a mass email to their students or post textbooks on CourseWeb.

Instead, students rushed to get their textbooks within the few days between their being inconspicuously posted and classes starting.

Not only did the massive order numbers  and shipping clog things in the bookstore in terms of students receiving ordered books, but also the mailroom had stacks shoulder-high of unprocessed packages. Without this prior information, students rushed to get books.

Thus, professors had to delay lessons and homework that they might have been depending on.

Even if the communication problem had been worked around, there still lies the issue with the bookstore’s ordering of textbooks.

There were multiple crises: Some textbook information posted to the bookstore website was incorrect in relation to what professors submitted; wrong books were stocked even when professors put in requests months in advance; and some prices skyrocketed unnecessarily due to unneeded supplier changes.

During the fall semester, these problems might have been put off due to lack of time for employee training. This time around, however, when the bookstore has been rooted for three months already, these problems are not as easily forgotten.

To boot, the bookstore has chains open in multiple universities—one would expect that such issues would have come up at other universities and have had solutions created already. The bookstore needs to come up with ideas for betterment quickly before they lose more business.

Clearer and more concise communication and records, and perhaps somewhere professors can double-check their requests, would help initially, but the bookstore is again off to a rocky enough start that we are starting to question its capability.