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The University of Arizona BookStores

The University of Arizona BookStores is a self-sustaining department within The University of Arizona’s Division of Student Affairs, meaning that UA BookStores' primary function revolves around the fulfillment of the academic needs of the students, faculty and staff at The University of Arizona without requiring ANY additional subsidies from state, tuition or student fees funds.

In fact, in addition to meeting its own financial obligations, UA BookStores is responsible for providing financial support to many campus departments within the Division and elsewhere on campus, including Arizona’s student government, student-clubs and organization, campus media, inter-collegiate athletics, and many more.

UA BookStores also supports the academic pursuits of UA’s student population, providing upwards of $15,000 dollars annually in student scholarships plus savings on textbooks valued at about $90,000 for approximately 400 student employees annually. Additionally, UA BookStores has pioneered academic outreach initiatives on campus, providing monthly youth literacy programs, educational summer camps, support for the annual Tucson Festival of Books, and much, much more. In fact, UA BookStores contributed over $7 million to the campus community in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

These financial and programmatic contributions to the UA, Tucson and Southern Arizona communities is summed in the BookStores tagline: We do more than exchange product for money. UA BookStores patrons—both on campus and online—are assured that every penny spent at UA BookStores is funneled back into the UA community in some fashion. For details about exactly how UA BookStores gives back, visit our page at uabookstore.arizona.edu/wedomore.

UA BookStores Mission

UA BookStores supports the pursuit of higher learning by providing a complete array of academic related products, services and programming that align with the academic mission of The University of Arizona, all as a self-financed auxiliary unit without the aid of monies allocated from state tax, student tuition or any other campus subsidies.

UA BookStores Vision

UA BookStores will continue to enhance the academic experience at The University of Arizona through a diverse range of educational programming and financial contributions to students, along with increasing community outreach efforts. UA BookStores will always offer value beyond the simple exchange of product for money by providing an environment that perpetuates a love of learning.

UA BookStores Values

We promote a sense of inclusion with an emphasis on academic excellence, mentoring the development of students’ practical skills related to their academic interests and experiences through employment, class project participation, academic internships and scholarships.

UA BookStores History

What we recognize today as the University of Arizona BookStores likely got its start in 1891 when UA held its first classes in Old Main. In those days, books were included in the cost of attendance and a total of six students were enrolled as freshmen. The BookStores’ exact origin has been lost to history but it is reasonable to believe that the first “store” was nothing more than a supply closet.

It wasn’t until 1928 that the first (unnamed and unofficial) bookstore opened in the basement of Old Main. It was around this time that the University began selling textbooks rather than issuing them to students. However, that bookstore could not escape the effects of the Great Depression and after operating at a loss throughout the 1930s, it was sold to the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

Things turned around for the BookStores with the arrival of thousands of veterans of World War II attending UA on the G.I. Bill. Over the coming decades, the BookStores grew right along with the student population. In January 1954, the store moved out of the old basement and into a new 8,000 square foot space. New locations opened up in the 1960’s, and a major expansion in 1981 left the main BookStore with a new space nearly three times larger.

In 1989 Frank Farias became Executive Director of the BookStores, ushering in a period of innovation and expansion unrivaled in the BookStores’ history. From the beginning, Mr. Farias set about creating a strong sense of community among the BookStores’ employees. This sense of inclusion, with an emphasis on promoting academic excellence, redefined the bookstore model, turning it into a place that “does more than just exchange product for money”.

In February of 2003, the BookStores unveiled the new flagship store in the Student Union Memorial Center. At 63,000 square feet, this new store was designed to provide students, faculty and the Tucson community with a premier shopping experience. An extremely versatile space, the store also serves as an event center, a meeting space, an art gallery and a tribute to University of Arizona students from all over the world.

In 2009, Debby Shively became Director of UA BookStores. Since her appointment, she has created innovative partnerships with new brands and navigated the organization into the age of digital content. Ms. Shively has also overseen the expansion of outreach programming, particularly to off-campus constituents and young learners.