SRJC BOOKstore looks baren after official outsourcing

Arthur Gonzalez-Martin, staff photographer

Shelves are feeling pretty empty at Santa Rosa Junior College bookstores in Santa Rosa and Petaluma after management was taken over by the Follett Corporation March 27.

Management was outsourced to Follett after the bookstore ran at a loss for three years straight. Follett, a 150-year-old corporation based in Illinois, manages bookstores at over 1,200 colleges nationwide.

The bookstore is running currently with a minimal staff and a series of temporary managers who rotate through the store each week. Current management refused comment to the Oak Leaf for this piece.

Former SGA president Joshua Graham-Pinaula said a number of former student employees quit because Follett wasn’t taking their classes into consideration when making work schedules. Graham-Pinaula also expressed concern over the lack of support given to the bookstore before outsourcing it to Follett and about what else may be outsourced down the road.

“If we keep adopting that model where something goes wrong, what next?” said Graham-Pinaula.

SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong described how the college hired a consultant to study options for running the bookstore.

“[The consultant] came to the conclusion that it was somewhat overstaffed, it was getting pretty old and if we wanted it to be a bit more revenue generated we would have had to invest a couple million dollars into it,” Chong said.

Doug Roberts, assistant superintendent for finance and administrative services believes stores like Barnes & Noble and Follett can use their buying power to keep textbook prices down for students.

“I got the whole buy local movement, but to do that what are you willing to give up to do so?” Roberts said.