College offers new options for book purchase


Angela Mauroni

Garret Scronce, ’18, is one of many students taking part in the new textbook purchasing policy. The second floor of the bookstore is now closed off to students.

Since the end of the Spring 2015 semester, Allegheny has been initiating new textbook policies and programs in both the Merriman Bookstore and Pelletier Library.

One of the biggest changes students will be facing is the new way of purchasing required books. The second floor of the bookstore is now closed off completely due to thefts and break-ins last year.

“We were experiencing textbook theft and the best solution I could think of was to close the whole thing off,” said Bookstore Manager Peter Lebar.

There are now three different ways to order books. The first would be to order them online and pay online.  The buyer would then wait for a slip to come in their campus mailbox saying that their order is ready to be picked up from room 211, next to the Shafer Auditorium balcony.

Orders that were made and paid for online can be picked up in the Campus Center, room 211.
Angela Mauroni
Orders that were made and paid for online can be picked up in the Campus Center, room 211.


If the buyer had not paid online, they pick up their books in the front of the bookstore. If they had not purchased online at all, they can write up an order for the books they need at a table set up in front of room 313 in the Campus Center. Following that, they would get an email, typically within the day, saying their order is complete and they could pick up the order in the Allegheny bookstore.

According to Peter Lebar, the bookstore manager, the second floor of the bookstore was closed after some large amounts of thefts and break-ins.

“One night we’d have twelve copies of abnormal psych and the next day we’d have two,” said Lebar.

The perpetrator(s) had apparently put tape over the lock of the door to keep it from closing and entered after hours to steal the textbooks that still had high market value. Although Lebar said the bookstore has always experienced theft, it has never been in such a large volume.

Instead of students having to check their bags at the door each time they enter or installing security cameras, Lebar said the best option was to close it off.

“I don’t want to be backpack police,” he said.

According to Lebar, the bookstore cannot afford to lose books in such mass quantities.

“We’ve been losing the textbook business a little bit more each year,” he said.

As the sales at Amazon and other book providers has risen, the more expensive bookstore sales have fallen. Lebar said the post office at the beginning of the year will often receive two or three tubs of shipments from Amazon  alone every day.

They also closed it off in order to gain needed storage space, Lebar said. Prior to this year, all of the inventory that was not out was stacked in the offices. Lebar said they now have more space to operate and a more secure system which they are hoping will mean fewer accidental purchases, which will help to minimize returns.

Lebar said the bookstore staff has also been experiencing smaller lines at the counter, which in previous years could add up to a 45 minute wait or even longer.

Akeem Bridgeman, ’16, is one of many students who has utilized the new book order system. According to him, the line can still get long.

“I don’t think there’s enough space for it at the beginning of the year,” Bridgeman said.

He said that because there is only enough space around the table for a few people to be filling out a form at once and that each students takes several minutes, adding up to more time.

However, he said the change is more convenient overall compared to the his past three years at Allegheny and that the new process should continue.

“I understand why they did it,” he said.

There have also been changes at Pelletier Library. While the library has had required books on reserve in the past, it has been steadily increasing the amount in the last two years in particular.

According to Aimee Reash, the manager of access services, Lebar determines which courses are considered high demand and relays the information to the library, who will either be given or will otherwise acquire the books to put on reserve. Any books that are used as a required text for class and are already owned by the library are pulled from circulation and put on reserve. If a student already has the required book checked out, they are emailed and asked to bring it back as soon as they can.  

Students taking advantage of the reserve system are only permitted to have the books for a limited number of hours and cannot take the books out overnight.

The idea of having textbooks on reserve comes from wanting to offer an inexpensive textbook option for students, particularly those who cannot afford spending hundreds of dollars a semester on books. Reash said it also helps prevent students from having to buy a book they will never use again, such as one purchased for a distribution course or one taken for fun.

“One person should not have a monopoly on a text,” said Reash.

The full reserve list is accessible via a link on a MyAllegheny post Reash submitted on Aug. 20, 2015. The sheet includes information about how many of the books are on reserve as well as whether it is one of the few e-books offered by the library.  

Reash said she understands that the reserve system versus the loan system can confuse students and welcomes questions.

“I’m happy to have people contact me and I’ll explain it to them personally,” she said.