The sweet spot on the Georgia College campus may just be the library, where a new vending machine draws students in need of a quick-fix for school-supplies. That vending machine, dispensing everything from Scantrons and flash drives to Number 2 pencils and highlighters, is one of the added benefits to arrive on campus as a result of Georgia College’s new partnership with Barnes & Noble College.
“It’s located near my office, and let me tell you, it gets non-stop use,” said Cindy McClanahan, director of marketing and communications for auxiliary services at Georgia College. The vending machine was created in partnership with the school’s Student Government Association and is stocked by the campus bookstore, which is managed by Barnes & Noble College. “You put in your money and get a flash drive instead of candy,” she said. “It’s genius — and our students love it.”
That added convenience is just one new addition brought to campus by the Barnes & Noble at Georgia College bookstore, which officially opened its doors on August 4, in the historic Campus Theatre in downtown Milledgeville. Students can visit the bookstore to purchase everything from textbooks to snacks to emblematic apparel. In 2010, the college renovated the theater, originally a cinema dating back to 1935, to house the theater department, a black box theater, convenience store and the bookstore. “The Campus Theatre is in an area that bridges the campus and the community,” McClanahan explained. “The town of Milledgeville hasn’t had a bookstore in at least six or seven years, so bringing the bookstore here is amazing.”
The benefits of the bookstore will go far beyond the student population. “The partnership between Georgia College and Barnes & Noble College will not only benefit our students, faculty and staff, but also the Milledgeville and Baldwin County community,” said Dr. Steve Dorman, president of Georgia College. “We are proud to partner with Barnes & Noble to bring new opportunities to our area.”
Georgia College is planning a grand opening in October, preparing a celebration complete with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting, entertainment and refreshments. “We’ll also have a VIP student night for incoming freshman, with raffles, giveaways and other fun events,” McClanahan stated.
Other plans on the calendar include books signings. The first will feature local historian Dr. Bob Wilson, who, according to McClanahan, “has literally written the book on Georgia College.” The signing will coincide with the college’s 125th anniversary. “I’ve spoken to quite a few people who are interested in having us host book clubs,” reported Bookstore Manager Barresa Adams, who plans to have additional book signings at the store. “I think that’s great. We want to be a real resource for the community.” To accomplish this, the bookstore plans to include a special section for local authors, including faculty. “This would provide an opportunity to showcase area talent and highlight topics of a local nature,” Adams added.
Input from the school has been critical to the store’s offerings, according to Adams. “Working with Georgia College has been amazing,” she said. “Greg Brown, interim assistant vice president for auxiliary services, visits every day to check in and see how we’re doing — and Cindy [McClanahan] emails frequently with great ideas for the store,” Adams reported.
One of those ideas was to let Adams know that students enjoy bringing hammocks to the school’s picturesque front lawn, which is bordered by Corinthian columned buildings that help define the character of the campus. The lawn is a favorite spot for sunning, Frisbee games, graduations, outdoor concerts, and the occasional outdoor class. “We took that great suggestion, explored different vendors, and now we’re offering hammocks in the bookstore,” said Adams. “We’re locally empowered to make those kinds of decisions — so we can offer merchandise that is unique to Georgia College — and exactly what our students want.”
In addition to receiving faculty input, Barnes & Noble College asked students for their feedback as well. “We heard from students about what they liked and didn’t like about the previous bookstore, and we examined buying trends to understand what has worked best for them.” McClanahan said. One preference came through loud and clear. “Our students wanted more selection and Barnes & Noble College is already bringing that to us,” she reported. Even through the vending machines.