Printing fee reduces usage

Students used 75 percent less paper from the Gelman Library System compared to last year, library officials said this week. They are attributing the decrease to the University mandatory printing fee, instituted last fall.

Officials called the addition of a 7-cents-per-printed-page fee “successful,” as it saved the University money and resources, including paper and toner. Library patrons used 500,000 pages of paper this year, compared to 2 million pages used during the 2001-2002 school year.

“The system works great – it keeps track of numbers and recovery costs,” said William Mayer, director of library information technology.

Gelman and Center for Academic Technologies officials announced the GW Prints agreement last summer in response to excessive printing. Gelman, the Law School and Medical Center libraries and Center for Academic Technologies labs all began to charge in the fall.

CATs officials were unavailable for comment this week.

Library patrons used about 78,000 more pages first semester than second. Users printed out 275,762 pages in Gelman and Eckles libraries from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2002; 197,392 pages were printed from Jan. 1 to April 29.

Mayer said the distortion in figures may be in part because of the high volume of printing done during finals, noting the numbers should change substantially after spring finals.

Although the printing fee garnered $30,000 for the library, Mayer said the library did not make a profit off the new system because the money went toward technology purchases and heightened maintenance.

Mayer noted that the $30,000 figure was lower than expected.

The library also replaced every printer this year because of excessive printing in the past, Mayer said, adding that there has been a significantly smaller amount of “wear and tear” on the new printers. He stated that the new printers are also more reliable.

Mayer said the efficiency of the system will be evaluated during summer 2005 and that there will be no major changes in the fee until then.

Mayer said the money from the printing fee has also been reinvested in the system through the purchase of paper, system software and toner. “We are taking the students’ money and giving it back to them …We have a very long way to making profit,” he said.

Mayer said that while a significant amount of paper has been saved and the quality of the printing has improved, several system failures have occured.

He said the GWorld card system has not been consistent this semester, shutting down more than 20 times.

“The partnership is new, so there have been growing pains,” Mayer said, noting computer glitches and other problems between the GWorld and printing systems.

Mayer said the printing fee will remain at 7 cents per page next year. However, he said officials are considering raising copy machine fees, which were lowered this year to match printing costs.

The only printers currently available for student use without charge are those in residence halls. However, officials said they may begin charging next year.

Alexa Kim, director of Student and Academic Support Communication and Technology, said the department is analyzing this year’s data to decide whether the change is necessary.

“Before printing fees were charged, we filled the paper every other day or every three days,” Kim said. “Now, we fill it every day.”

Kim said a residence hall printing fee, if instituted, would also be seven cents per page.

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