Students will pay 7 cents per page to print in almost all University computer labs starting in September. Technology officials cited increasing operating costs without budget increases in recent years as the main reason for the charge.
The charge comes six months after the Center for Academic Technologies instated a printing quota of 1,250 pages for each student’s Novell account, which is required to log-in to CATs computers.
According to a Jan. 24 Hatchet article, CATs Manager Michael Peckman said the quota would be lowered after spring semester and students would be charged for each page over it.
Bill Mayer, assistant librarian for information technology, said wasted paper and print toner and the ability to provide better services for students are also reasons for the charge.
“We are not making a profit,” CATs Executive Director P. B. Garrett said.
Library system-controlled computers in the Eckles Library at the Mount Vernon Campus will not charge for printing in the fall, but may during the year, Mayer said. Connectivity problems with the small printing site and the GWorld card system will take it longer to switch to the new system, he said.
“I am very well aware of the negative impact of this,” he said. “Why add in more nickel and dimes?”
He also said Gelman is looking into lowering copying prices, currently 10 cents a copy, to match printing prices.
Both library and CATs officials said they are matching the law and medical school fees for printing to unify the service on campus.
“If the law library is charging for printing, that’s the last place you’re going to go to print,” Mayer said.
He said when CATs implemented the printing quota last semester, their labs saw a decrease of 1.25 million pages, but library figures increased close to that rate.
As a result, Mayer said, Gelman Library’s print, toner and paper charges tripled last semester.
Likewise, he said, “if the library had done something to reduce printing, CATs would take it on the chin.”
Senior Matthew Tisdale, next year’s Gelman Library student liaison, said 60 percent of U.S. universities use a pay-for-print system, including three others in the D.C. university library consortium. American and Gallaudet universities charge about 8 to 10 cents to print and copy while George Mason charges 5 cents to print.
Garrett said while last semester’s printing cap may have saved pages, the quota “didn’t really save money.”
“There was a quota amount but people printed more Web pages, for example, that required more toner,” she said.
She said CATS could no longer afford the cost of new printers and printer maintenance, and has not received additional funding from the University for printing services as the student body grows.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, whose department grants the library budget, was unavailable for comment.
Garrett said CATs will purchase 12 new printers this year, while Mayer said Gelman will buy nine new printers.
Software for the new system will cost the library about $20,000, Mayer said. Garrett said CATs is still calculating the cost of the new system.
Mayer said charge will allow the library to better serve students with new, more reliable printers and computer equipment.
“Obviously since you’re being charged to print, there’s a value to that service,” Mayer said.
The new system will be implemented over the summer, students will have to begin swiping their GWorld cards to “release” print jobs from the printer starting this week on the Gelman first floor, but will not be charged until the first week of classes.
Tisdale said he is prepared to field complaints about the new charge, and reminds students that “withdrawing the $50 voluntary (library) gift is not going to help this situation.”
Mayer said the voluntary gift goes to new library technology and staff to reshelve books.
“The general rage would be better spent constructively, like through my office,” Tisdale said. “I’m on (students’) team on this one.”
His office is on the first floor of the Gelman Library, other ways to reach him include a suggestion box in the library and his e-mail address, email@example.com.