Students returning to the GW Bookstore to buy books for second-semester classes will notice a few changes as Marvin Center construction gets underway and employees attempt to combat long lines typical of the first two weeks of class.
At 3 p.m. Monday, the average line time was five to 15 minutes with 13 registers open.
“Students will recognize the crowds that accompany the rush period, but a lot of other things in the bookstore will not look as familiar,” GW Bookstore Director Patricia Lee said.
Construction on the expansion of the bookstore, which blocks one entrance to the store, began when students left for winter break. It is scheduled to finish in six to nine months, Lee said.
“One doorway makes things tighter,” she said.
Bookstore employees relocated merchandise to accommodate the construction of a new elevator shaft that will make the bookstore wheelchair accessible, Lee said.
“Students will notice changes before they even enter the bookstore,” Lee said.
One of the most drastic changes will take place outside bookstore doors, where employees will run two computer registers to buy back books from students. The bookstore also instituted a ban on backpacks in the store.
“We are prohibiting the use of book bags in the store and are hoping that these external registers will alleviate some of the congestion inside the store,” Lee said.
Students will be able to place their bags in storage space outside the bookstore doors.
As of Monday, the outdoor backpack and bag check was operating but the extra registers for returns in the lobby outside the bookstore were not set up yet.
“A tremendous amount of work has been put into making the second semester rush go smoothly but we are going to have to ask for the students to be patient,” Lee said.
Some students said they were happy with the bookstore last semester.
“It was easier than last semester; they had more of the books I needed,” freshman Sara Evans said.
Students also commended the exterior additions to the bookstore.
“I like the whole set-up of giving your backpack (at the bag check outside),” freshman Laura Braude said. “I didn’t feel safe just leaving my bag (unguarded) up front.”
Online prepaid orders, in which employees set aside books for students to pick up at the store, significantly rose this semester, Lee said.
Lee advises students to have patience and avoid purchasing the wrong books.
“If students bring their course schedules to the store, they will have a better chance of buying the right books the first time and not having to stand in the return lines,” Lee said.
Other measures have been taken to ease the rush period, including hiring extra staff to keep lines moving, extending store hours and reorganizing the store space.
“(It was) quick and easy, easier than in the fall,” said first-year medical student Josh Nathan.
The bookstore was open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day and will operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday for the next two weeks. Weekend hours will remain the same. Regular hours are until 7 p.m. during the week and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“If students can bear with the construction, we will have another successful rush,” Lee said. “Our staff works very hard to make this process as pain-free as possible.”
-Tim Donnelly contributed to this report.