CMU Bookstore provides students with options for book rental returns

CMU Bookstore employees assist students in making their beginning of the semester purchases on January 8, 2019.

When Central Michigan University President Bob Davies announced in-person classes were canceled for the remainder of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he urged students to return home. 

Without students able to return to campus, the CMU Bookstore developed two ways for this semester's book rentals to be returned. 

The bookstore is allowing students to return materials by dropping them off at the store or shipping them from their homes. A prepaid shipping label will be provided to students if necessary. Students do not need their original receipt to return books.

In an email sent to the student body, bookstore director Barry Waters asked students to reply with how they plan to return their books.

"We have received responses from 20% of the students," Waters said. "It is about half dropping them off and half needed a label."

Students not returning books is not unusual. The non-return rate is 7% each semester. Waters anticipates a "slightly higher" percentage due to the circumstances created by the coronavirus.

"We are going to make it as easy as possible," Waters said. "All they will need to find is a box or envelope and tape. There's no concern at all from us on not having enough course materials for summer or fall terms."

Since the university turned to an online-only format, non-essential businesses, including the bookstore, closed March 23 following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "stay home, stay safe" order. 

The bookstore has one staff member in the store daily for four hours to fill web orders for all departments.

"A few of our full-time staff are working from home, and the rest are on administrative leave, per CMU policy," Waters said. "This will continue until the order is lifted."

If students need help accessing books for classes, CMU's digital course materials partner, Vital Source, announced March 16 that it would offer students free access to "the nation's largest college textbook publishers" through May 25.

"This does not cover every book for every class," Waters said. "It will take care of the majority of the course material needs until the spring term ends."