the b***store strikes again

Calling all UBCers: AUX ARMES CITOYENS!!!
1. UBC Bookstore open house about the proposed name change: Wednesday 21 September (that’s this week), 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., with senior staff available to actually talk to IRL from 11.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.  I’m presuming that “in the lobby in Vancouver and the Okanagan” is meant to mean “in those respective branches of the UBC Bookstore.”
2. Email the Bookstore your comments:

Hi there – I am emailing a few of you who had previously sent encouragement and support about the UBC Bookstore renaming issue.  I am hoping you can circulate the following information about the upcoming open house to your various lists.

Hi there – UBC Bookstore is having another open house this week about the proposed name change – Wed Sept 21st 10am-4:30pm.  As with the previous two open houses that were poorly attended, there has been no attempt to circulate this information or broadcast it to the UBC community.

Please circulate this as widely as you can to all faculty and student lists.  And if you can’t attend, there are options on the website for how to give feedback.
This is our last chance to have a voice in this process.
Kim Snowden
Women’s and Gender Studies & Co-ordinated Arts
University of British Columbia

Adding: indeed, this information has not been distributed by email. Either that or (less likely as involving more effort) some of us have been removed from certain global email lists.

Here is the information copy-pasted from that aforementioned site:

Join us: open house Sept 21st

Learn more about the background to this project and have your say at our all day open houses at the UBC Bookstore on September 21st:10am – 4.30pm in the lobby in Vancouver and the Okanagan.Learn about the background, processes, other feedback and have your say. If you wish to have a face-to-face conversation, senior staff will be available between 1130am – 1pm.

We are proposing a new name. The UBC Bookstore loves books, however, for over 20 years we have sold far more products and provided many services than those new to campus are aware of. As a result, it is natural to review what our name says about us (as are other campuses across North America). We are working hard to provide course materials for sale online and continue to be the largest independent bookstore in Western Canada, but we are also home to the UBC Carding office, the U-Pass and the IT Help Services desk, provide a multitude of donations to student and community organizations and run many events. We have proposed the new name ‘UBC Central’? Why, because we are:

  • central to UBC’s academic needs; we are still a fundamental part of the UBC community and fully committed to books
  • a central community hub on campus
  • providing a wide range of one-stop shopping and services at UBC
  • able to thrive and grow in any direction (without limiting ourselves to any particular product or service) and continue to give back to UBC’s community
  • like a transportation hub enabling our students to move in any future direction.

‘Central’ also translates well into many cultures and languages in keeping with UBC’s international student growth.

We realise many people will continue to call us the Bookstore for many years to come and this is perfectly understandable. We simply need to communicate to new and existing customers that we provide many different products and services.
We will always work hard to anticipate the needs of UBC’s students, faculty, and staff whether through donations, events,  improving the pricing of course materials, sourcing the latest books and products or providing key services.

We continue to be owned and operated by UBC and return a large dividend each year to be re-invested on campus. In 2009/10, we returned a dividend of  $1.6 million.

Please email us if you can’t attend and let us know whether:

You understand why we’re considering this change.

Whether you like, dislike or are neutral to the new proposed name, or whether you simply prefer Bookstore and why:

If you like or understand the reasons for the change, you can also follow us on Facebook ‘UBC Central’.

What the media said:

Vancouver Observer

The Ubyssey

My own response was, I admit, coloured by a lot of the summer spent reading Arendt and Nussbaum and post-apocalyptic sci-fi, and (other) recent readings on the future and fate of the university, the humanities, and civilization itself:

Dear Sirs,

I understand the reasons given for the proposed change of name. It is my considered and informed opinion that there is no need for a change of name, and further, that the proposed change to “Central” is not acceptable. It is unnecessary, inane, stupid, anti-academic and anti-intellectual in connotation, and risks bringing the university into disrepute–bad timing, just as UBC was doing well in world league-tables.
Worse still, it is symptomatic of the sort of marketing-driven drivel that is a danger to academia and to be resisted. UBC is, after all, a university, not any old business. Its success, demonstrated most obviously in world rankings, is driven by faculty research and teaching. In other words, by scholarship and learning: their pursuit and expansion, and their transmission and preservation; and emphatically by the activities and action of faculty: not by administrative systems, marketing departments, and other peripheral support services. This is not to detract from their cardinal vital importance to the smooth functioning of the university: but they are ancillary to the university itself.
I have already written about this issue previously: in response to a petition some months ago, and in blog posts in response to this ridiculous idea. The principal one is here:
I should add that I have worked in the book-trade previously (Heffers, Cambridge: 1994-96; Hodges Figgis, Dublin: 2007) and am fully aware of problems facing bookshops. That and other obvious bookishness aside–I work in literary criticism, am a medievalist by training, and have been a lifelong reader–I have also been involved with e-books, e-texts, and digital humanities for about twelve years; and with computing for nearly twenty. So: I speak from experience on both side of the (alleged, purported, mythified) digital “divide.”
Yours faithfully,
Juliet O’Brien

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