Student anger at bookshop closure plans

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STUDENTS at Sheffield Hallam University have launched a petition protesting against the closure of the campus’s only bookshop.

Eleven staff at Blackwell’s on Arundel Gate will be made redundant when the branch closes before Christmas.

Students claim the university charges the shop an annual rent of £106,000 a year - too high for it to make a profit.

Its parent company says the shop has been trading at a loss for the past six years, ever since it opened.

The petition is to be presented to Blackwell’s headquarters in Oxford and a copy will be given to the university.

The campaign will also be discussed by the Hallam student assembly at the Hubs centre on Thursday.

One of the organisers Nick Howard said the loss to students, staff and to the public in the Cultural Industries Quarter would be great.

“A bookshop is more than just another retail outlet, despite the moves to on-line purchasing and book publishing on electronic slates,” he said.

“The petition has been very well supported. A university without a bookshop offers lower standards of service to its students and teachers than those available at the better provided universities.”

Plans earlier in the year to widen the appeal of the bookshop to the public, included redesigning it to include a coffee bar.

The campaigners say many members of the public are unaware it is open to them as well as to students and teachers.

Student reps will also be asked to broaden the campaign to demand that whatever the plans the university has for the future use of its premises, a bookshop should be included among them.

A spokesman said: “Blackwell is currently in consultation with Sheffield Hallam bookshop and hopes to relocate staff where possible. “Discussions are under way about an alternative provision to students at key times of the year.”

Clive Macdonald, Hallam director of student services said: “Students are able to access a high quality range of books and other resources from the Adsetts and Collegiate Learning Centres.

“Both stock a wide range of learning materials that students need for their courses.”