Printing costs don’t make cents

The 2010-2011 school year brought no massive changes to Central Michigan University’s printing policy. The University Library has charged for print jobs for over two decades. So what’s with all the hype about printing costs this semester?

Many students on campus have been made aware of new printing costs this fall. The public’s consensus — the school wants more money. This is simply not true.

Central is aware of environmental concerns. This is why the university has asked the student body to meet half-way. Maybe students will realize the burden of printing PowerPoint slides, and 300-page summaries on a daily basis.

This year’s policy only changes costs for those using campus computer labs. These printers were being bombarded with long print jobs for free — many e-mailed from library computers or saved to flash drives.

Students are now required to pay $.04 for each page of black and white printed material — while color-printing runs $.32 per sheet. To pay, students must swipe their Central ID card through the print software command station after creating a username and password.

The job can then be stored, deleted and printed. The proper amount is deducted from the student’s account after the print completes. Undergraduates are allocated $10.00 (250 sheets) for each semester, and graduate students are given $15.00 (375 sheets).

The University Library has kept up with advancements in computer technology, which has made printing easily accessible.  The campus-wide system of software cost Central almost $100,000, and has been updated several times.

Printers can now create expanded formats and transparencies for overhead projections. Not to mention, Central’s library boasts four floors of service, a tech center, and the current President of the Michigan Library Association, Richard Cochran, as Associate Dean of Libraries. Only printing costs students money.

Central’s Manager of Library Business Services, Gerry Edgar, has worked for the university for more than 20 years. Edgar remembers the toil of maintaining tractor-feed printers — for which expensive ribbons are constantly reloaded, and staff time is wasted on handling printing issues.

“We lost control”, Edgar said, recalling years of 30-minute lines and 400-sheet print jobs. “The policy only helps to cover costs. It does not try to make money”.

According to the University Library’s 2008 data collection, over 150,000 pages were printed through the library’s printers. In addition to alternative printing centers on campus, printing has become an expensive service.

Central charges a small fee for printing in labs; students can receive a large number of services. This is an agreeable solution for Central printers. If paying the university one more cent is too painful — Kinko’s is open half the hours, with zero of the services, and double the price.