Printing changes to aid research, waste reduction

By Jonathan McJunkin

Students printing syllabi and readings in the library or Humanities Recourse Center [HRC] last week were greeted with more than a change in class schedule at the start of this semester. PaperCut, the software used across campus to manage public printers, has a new look and a few new features.New updates now require a user login before printing anything at either location. At the job-release station, students are no longer required to choose a destination for their document; a printer is automatically chosen for them. In addition, students now see their username next to their job.

The color scheme for PaperCut has also been changed to blue.

“Right now, the changes are only in place in the Library and the HRC,” ITS Help Desk Manager Jacob Doory said when asked about the future of these changes, “but next summer we plan to have them in place everywhere.”

“More printing happens in the library-over 300,000 prints per month-than any where else on campus, so it makes sense to try out a new system with us,” added David Collins, Head of Public Services for the Library.

The changes are mostly focused on gathering data on who uses the printer and what they print. “It’s really about managing and tracking millions of pages of paper use, to prevent waste,” said Doory, “we currently don’t have any way of really documenting it. We don’t know how much of it is printing readings, how much of it is taken out of the printer-any of that.”

David Collins, Head of Public Services for the Library, added “the new system will give us data on how much printing is done by visitors-they will now need to check out a guest login in order to print.”

Another use for these changes is waste reduction.

“The new print release station should help eliminate those mistakes when you chose a slow printer and end up thinking it isn’t working and printing it twice,” said Rachel Botilie, ITS Client Services Clerk.” And those that occur when you hit the print button multiple times. They waste a lot of paper.”

The changes are not without their apparent drawbacks.

A possible concern students may have with a log-in system is that it would make it possible for Macalester to limit student paper use, as many schools do. “I don’t think that’s something we’re thinking of doing,” said Botilie, “and it’s definitely not part of these changes in the library.”

Students may also see logging in as a hassle. According to Collins, the advantages of the changes balance out their apparent inconvenience.

“While it may seem like a hassle at first to have to enter username/password just to print, one up-side is that at the Print-Release Stations, the print jobs now appear labeled with a username so they are easier to find-I think this will actually cut down on time spent in line waiting to print.