Community residents are invited to join Eastern Illinois University students, faculty and staff in celebrating a milestone for the institution's Textbook Rental Service.
A short ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at approximately 11:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 3, at the TRS' newly constructed home, located at 975 Edgar Drive, just east of Carman Hall.
"The building's already seen a lot of activity," said Dan Nadler, vice president for student affairs. "Thousands of our students have visited there during the past two weeks to pick up textbooks for the Fall 2010 semester.
"We just wanted to officially commemorate, and celebrate, the occasion with something a little more formal," he added.
Groundbreaking for the 19,200-square-foot facility, equipped to house approximately 220,000 textbook volumes supporting the university's academic programs, took place in Fall 2008. The finished structure houses a loading dock, a receiving area, a workroom and staff offices.
It also includes an automated inventory system; off-street parking; space for students to stand in line inside, instead of outside, as was necessary at the previous location; a 24-hour drop box; and a multitude of energy conservation measures.
The automated inventory system is the first of its kind in the country. To obtain books, a student simply swipes his EIU-issued identity card (Panther Card) to get a printout of books needed, finds the books in the stacks, and then places them on an electronic check-out pad that reads radio-frequency tags to verify that the correct books have been chosen. To return books, students can either use the self-check-in stations inside the facility or an exterior book drop.
Much of the cost of the $4.3 million project will be paid for through a $1-per-credit-hour increase in EIU students' Textbook Rental Service fee - an increase approved by the Board of Trustees with EIU student support.
The history of Eastern's Textbook Rental Service began with the opening of the university in 1899. Students paid $1 for the benefit of being able to rent, rather than purchase, the books they would need for their classes.
The service originally was housed in Old Main. The move to its most recent past location -- Pemberton Hall -- took place in 1969. By then, the university had two new gymnasiums; there was no longer a need for the much smaller 'crackerbox' gymnasium located in Pemberton Hall, so textbooks took over the space once used by school athletes.
Other than being temporarily housed in Buzzard Hall while some renovation work was taking place (circa 1980), the service remained in Pemberton Hall until the most recent move in the spring and summer of this year.
EIU's Textbook Rental Service currently reports an inventory of 220,000 volumes worth nearly $8 million. Some of those volumes -- time-honored novels, for example, as those used in English classes -- have been around for decades. Many others -- some costing upwards of $200 each -- need to be updated much more frequently.
On average, EIU students save $600 to $800 annually by renting, rather than buying, their textbooks.
Over the past century, our students have saved literally tens of thousands of dollars by having the opportunity to rent, rather than buy, the textbooks required of them for their classes," Nadler said. "Students and parents alike have told us over and over again how much they appreciate the convenience and, especially, the cost savings."