SUNY Oswego construction leaves questions about bookstore relocation

OSWEGO, N.Y. — SUNY Oswego’s ongoing renovation project of Hewitt Hall has displaced the college’s bookstore, and it is unclear what impact construction will have on campus operations as a whole. 

Michael Riecke, one of SUNY Oswego’s broadcasting professors, and the Hewitt renovation project’s faculty liaison, said that the project was not expected to disrupt campus operations.

“Because of the location of Hewitt Hall, while it’s right on the quad, the quad is big, and it’s kind of out of the way,” Riecke said.

The emphasis, Riecke said, was on construction limits, the area to which all construction materials must remain.

“You’ve already seen some of that come to fruition with the fencing around Hewitt, the fencing you see now is about as much of the space that they’re going to take up.”

The largest unknown facing those involved in Hewitt Hall’s renovation is that of the college bookstore, which has been displaced during construction. 

“The bookstore will have its own place, the question is still where that location will be, it will not be going back into Hewitt,” Riecke said. 

The college’s bookstore, which was moved from Hewitt Hall’s basement to its main floor during previous renovations, lacks an official storefront as of the Fall 2021 semester, and it is unclear where it will be located following the completion of Hewitt Hall.

“As of last check, they had not pinpointed an exact location of where the bookstore would be relocated to,” Riecke said.

Susan Raby, SUNY Oswego’s director of the College Bookstores, said the relocation out of Hewitt Hall had affected how the bookstore has been operating recently, and that the interim spaces the bookstore occupied presented their own difficulties.

“We’ve been in Penfield [Library] since the beginning of August, but the basement of Penfield is not accessible to people with disabilities, so we couldn’t be a viable store there,” Raby said.

“There was some thought that we would be able to use some space in Lanigan [Hall] but that didn’t come to fruition, so we were getting close to the deadline, and we didn’t really have any place to distribute the books.”

At the start of the Fall 2021 semester, the college bookstore utilized The Space, beneath Marano Campus Center.

“Because it isn’t our space,” Raby said, “we had to get out at some point.”

The construction of Hewitt Hall, Raby said, forced the bookstore to utilize the basement of Penfield Library, despite its inaccessibility.

“That wasn’t a surprise, but there just wasn’t anyplace else to put it but Penfield, which is where all the books are located.

“It’s hard to call it the bookstore,” Raby said, “because it’s not really a store, even that we’re not really supposed to have customers there, but we’ve had to ask customers to come there to pick up books if they haven’t already because there isn’t anywhere else.”

While there are no official plans for the bookstore’s permanent location, informal discussions about what space is needed has already begun, Raby said.

“I don’t have any particular space in mind, but bigger would be preferred to what we have now,” Raby said. “We took a big space hit.

“There is talk of renovating space underneath Cooper Dining Hall, it’s currently a mechanical closet,” Raby said. “But there is a loading dock there, which is not something students see, but not having a loading dock has been a challenge.”