4:31 p.m., Aug. 30, 2010----The University of Delaware and Barnes and Noble opened ground for construction of the new UD Bookstore during a festive event held Monday afternoon, Aug. 30.
UD has partnered with Barnes and Noble since 2002 and at the ceremony UD President Patrick Harker announced that the University has signed a new 15-year contract extension to continue the collaboration.
“We're calling this a ground opening instead of a groundbreaking for a couple of reasons,” Harker told those gathered for the event, held in a tent on the large tract that touches Main Street, Academy Street and Delaware Avenue. “Locating this bookstore on Main Street really opens us up to the town. Newark is so important to UD, and UD to Newark, and this will be such a lively intersection of city and University. Great universities help build great neighborhoods, and I can't wait to see the kind of energy this bookstore brings to an already thriving downtown.”
The opening of a bookstore, Harker said, also “opens up the life of the mind. It opens us up to intellectual debate, to the exchange of ideas, and opinions, and the things that matter. This project, as much as any other, is a recommitment to our mission to cultivate a truly inclusive community of thought and scholarship. It'll be a great venue for professors and writers not only to share their work with students, residents, and visitors, but to really engage them in it.”
Harker acknowledged Mark Sanderson, a principal in the firm Digsau, which is serving as the architect on the project, and Rob Buccinni from the design-build contractor Buccini/Pollin before introducing Max Roberts, president of Barnes and Noble College Booksellers.
Roberts, who grew up in Newark, Ohio, and has lived in Newark, N.J., for 25 years, joked about the pronunciation differences between the three cities before talking about the ground opening of the new bookstore.
“This ceremony is about beginnings,” Roberts said. “It's about the beginning of a new school year and it's about the beginning of a new construction project, and it's the beginning of a new era in Barnes and Noble's relationship with the University of Delaware and the greater community of Newark.
“The structure for which we're breaking ground here today is going to be more than just a beautiful college superstore. What we're going to build here is a modern day village green -- a place that will welcome UD and Newark communities, a knowledge center where people of all ages will come to feed their intellectual curiosity, connect with peers, or maybe just find a comfortable place to study. This is a very exciting project and we are very proud to be a part of it.”
Roberts also spoke about the technological advances that have taken place in the eight years since UD's partnership with Barnes and Noble began, noting that customers will have the option to make their purchases or sell their books from the store or online at the bookstore's website, with options of getting new, used or digital books. They can also “friend” the bookstore on Facebook, in order to stay up to date with its various events.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell spoke after Roberts, saying that it is “so fitting that a world-class company like Barnes and Noble has this partnership with what has really become a world-class university. To see the role that the University plays in Delaware, the research, the innovation, the teaching, the scholarship that is going on here in Newark and in Lewes, and really around the world with the study abroad program, this University is making a profound difference and a positive difference here in our state and we could not be more proud of what is happening here.”
Newark Mayor Vance Funk also spoke at the ground opening, saying, “When you look at downtown Newark now and what it was like say eight to 10 years ago, it's been an incredible transformation. [President Harker] talked to me about 'when we get a Barnes and Noble downtown.' And I knew this was a winner because Barnes and Noble belongs on Main Street.”
Speaking on behalf of University of Delaware faculty authors, Doug Tallamy, chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology and author of the widely acclaimed book Bringing Nature Home, said that he was “truly honored to represent the UD faculty authors.”
Tallamy said UD faculty members were “excited about the University's renewed relationship with Barnes and Noble, this spanking new facility we're celebrating today and the plans to provide a venue to display and promote the efforts of this type of scholarship.”
Harker and Roberts then shoveled dirt onto a treasure chest filled with books and gear from both UD and Barnes and Noble. The treasure chest was located in a hole dug for the ground opening to signify the UD Bookstore serving as a treasure for the community.
The UD Bookstore recently published a 2010 catalog, which is available online.
Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Kathy Atkinson