What’s wrong with the library printers???

Many of you have written on the Suggestions Board in the Library  about problems with the printers.  Here’s our response….

2 Responses to “What’s wrong with the library printers???”

  1. Carrie Macfarlane says:

    Most importantly

    We’re sorry for your frustration with the printers. The printers frustrate us, too. Please know that we’re trying to identify feasible solutions and hoping to find improvements. Here are some of the reasons why the printers break down, and some of the things we’re trying to do to help.

    Wear and tear

    The more you drive a car, the sooner you expect to bring it to the mechanic, right? Library users send millions of pages through our printers. And within the library, most jobs go to the printers on the main level. So, just two printers handle a huge number of print jobs. To reduce the wear and tear on these two printers, we are considering not setting a default printer, or evenly distributing the default printer assignments throughout the library.

    Aging equipment

    Remember when the price of a postage stamp jumped to 39 cents in 2006? We don’t either, and that’s how long ago some of our printers were purchased. We’re hoping to get newer printers in February. The “problem” with a new printer is that it…works! As a result, it gets overused. We’re hoping that new printers will allow us to implement a feature of the print release stations that allows people to redirect print jobs from one printer to another when there are malfunctions, long lines or long print jobs.

    Even now, you can look for a working printer before you send off your print job. This is a new development! Visit go/findaprinter and click on the printer icon for the nearest location. If the printer there is working fine, the word “Ready” will appear. If there’s a problem, the word “Error” will appear in red.

    Types of documents being printed

    It’s not just the large amount of prints, but also the type of documents being printed. While we do have high-volume printers, they are designed to continuously print hundreds of pages. Printing 10-20 pages, stopping, starting again, stopping again – this process breaks down the mechanism that lifts and moves the paper. The new Kyocera printers are supposed to be better at dealing with our use patterns, but it’s hard to tell if they actually are. Again, whenever a new (read: working) printer is installed, it gets used a lot, and as a result it breaks down.

    Furthermore, we all know that the printer is a frequent target for e-reserves readings. Many e-res documents are PDFs, and these are pictures of text, not simple text. The printer needs to work really hard when it processes pictures, and this can cause heat damage to the parts that disperse and fuse the toner. There are no easy solutions here. The most obvious option is to not print e-res documents. Aren’t they supposed to be electronic readings? Other options include an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) scanning process where we actually try to convert the pictures into text, but this is error-prone and does not work well even for English. Another potential option is selling e-res documents at the bookstore….

    Who’s trying to fix the printers?

    Another issue is the fact that many people are tempted to load paper and try to fix printer jams themselves rather than asking at the Helpdesk. This can cause more damage. Since we have lots of printers scattered across campus, and it’s physically impossible for Helpdesk staff to be in all places at all times, this type of damage is bound to continue. We’ve considered consolidating and having larger print centers in fewer buildings. This would make it easier for Helpdesk staff to check on printers more regularly.

    Is the printer really broken???

    Many breakdowns are not breakdowns at all. When folks see a flashing red light, for instance, they sometimes move on rather than contacting the Helpdesk. Sometimes the printer could have been “fixed” quickly if the Helpdesk were notified – sometimes it just needs more paper, or it’s looking for a non-standard paper size, or it’s waiting for someone to add paper to the manual feed tray. Sometimes a printer stops working because someone has stolen the ethernet cable.

    What have we been doing to improve the situation?

    In addition to all we have described above,

    -We’ve replaced one troublesome printer on the main level.
    -We’ve posted a stop/go sign in the atrium that indicates which printers are up (green) or down (red).
    -We perform printer rounds every night and periodically check them throughout the day.
    -Of course, if someone tells us that a printer isn’t working (pleeease, tell us!!!), we’ll check on it then too.

  2. Kenneth says:

    Thanks for the thorough response!

Leave a Reply