By Steve Thomas

While most EKU students spent their summer soaking up rays or earning the cash they needed to pay for tuition, drastic changes were underway on Eastern’s campus. One of the most comprehensive face-lifts of the summer was performed on the EKU Bookstore.

In addition to installing new carpet and tile floors, a new ceiling and new signage storewide, the store added a reading lounge complete with Wi-Fi Internet access and a variety of ne w products.

Gustavo Alfaro, a senior psychology major from Leslie County and second-year bookstore employee, said the student response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“They don’t recognize it,” Alfaro said. “They come in and go ‘whoa!'”

Store manager Lisa Crowe agreed.

“When you walk in, everything looks completely different,” Crowe said. “Even the atmosphere is different. It feels like a brand-new store.”

Crowe said that the store is much lighter and brighter, thanks in part to the pastel yellow tile floor and paint job. While there is no additional in-store space, Crowe said the new floor design is more open, spacious and inviting. Also contributing to the new feel is the removal of the walls that formerly lined the center of the store. With the walls torn down, the entire store is visible from the moment students walk in.

The new store design makes the staff more visible as well, which is Crowe’s favorite part of the renovation.

“We were hidden behind walls in the past. We were here, but students didn’t know it,” Crowe said. “I think things are much more open now. Much friendlier.”

Steven Bates, a sophomore computer science major from Lexington, said he was pleased with the changes and that the store is more accessible.

“They used to have everything all jumbled up in the back,” Bates said. “This is much better.”

An addition found nowhere else, however, is the textbook reservation pick-up counter in the back left corner of the store. Because of this permanent fixture, students will no longer have to wander aimlessly in search of the pick-up location for the books they had reserved.

Crowe said the permanent counter was “crucial” because of the success of the program, which allows students to pre-order their books and pick up a pre-loaded box at the beginning of each semester.

“This year we had close to 4,000 boxes in our back area,” Crowe said. “And that doesn’t include online orders being shipped to students’ homes.”

“I think that’s a great benefit for students,” she added.

Crowe said Barnes and Noble, which took over the EKU Bookstore in 2001, put up the funds for the renovations, which cost “a few hundred thousand dollars.”

“(Barnes and Noble) felt it was crucial to do this for the university,” Crowe said. “Everybody knows Barnes and Noble, so putting (EKU and Barnes and Noble) together has been very cool.”

10 items to pick up at the new bookstore

Makeup – Lipstick, eye shadow, liquid eye liner, blush and more from Prestige Cosmetics available in the heart of Eastern’s campus.

Sparknotes – You wouldn’t think you could nab these at your campus bookstore, but they’re supposed to supplement the book, not replace it.yeah, right.

Greeting cards – Thank You, Happy Birthday, Sympathy cards and even a variety of pop-up greeting cards save you a last-minute trip to Wal-Mart.

DVDs – New(er) releases like Live Free or Die Hard, Transformers and Good Luck, Chuck are available for purchase – and all for less than $9.99.

Faculty books – Pick up a book written by one of your professors. Robert Witt, Harry Brown, Samuel Hinton and Kevin McQueen are just a few of the familiar EKU faces whose books are available for purchase in the Faculty Books section.

Dinner – Ok, so it’s not prime rib, but if you’re desperate for something to eat in your dorm, pick up a can of Campbell’s soup or a package of Ramen noodles from (that’s right) the bookstore.

What You Forgot At Home – Need a razor, dish soap, rubbing alcohol, toothpaste, deodorant, air fresheners, paper towels or other essentials? Now you know where to find them.

The Milestone Yearbook – Hey, remember last year? You can remember it forever if you pick up last year’s Milestone – soon to hit the bookstore’s shelves.

Medicine – All the name brands you know and love are available right on campus. Because let’s face it, you don’t want to have to drive to Wal-Mart when you’re already as sick as a dog.

Shaft’s cookbook – Yeah, the late, great Isaac Hayes had a cookbook. Cooking with Heart and Soul is available at the bookstore, along with countless other classics and buried treasures.