Daily Archives: March 26, 2010

Copiers and Printers: The Bane of the Librarian’s Existence

There are many things I love about working in the library:

  • books
  • students
  • learning new things
  • helping people

To be honest, there are too many things to name. I love most things about my job.

But the one thing I hate, I hate with a passion: printer and copier problems.

Let’s take the printers. But first, a little background. As instructors started using their course shells more, they put more and more materials in them instead of handing things out in class. In  theory, students were to read these materials online. But in reality, students print them out. And these include massive Powerpoint and PDF files. According to Computer Services, these files take awhile to load on the printer and if students go to the print station and hit print too soon, it will cause the printer to suddenly cease all operations. So on days when the science students all need to print out 55 pictures of various body systems, the printers routinely stop working. Now, also routinely, when a student goes to the printer and finds that the document has not printed, he does not assume that it may take a few minutes, he assumes his job did not go to the printer, so he then goes to the next printer, and it jams as well.

I have to admit that there are some days that if one more student comes up and says the printers aren’t working, I think I might just burst into tears. Or just burst.

But the printers are not as bad as the copiers, because at least with the printers, we have the guys in Computer Services here on campus who can fix things. With the copiers, we have to call the company. The company is excellent about sending people out quickly, but quickly is not fast enough when you have a line of students who want their copies before they go to class. 

Breaking down is only part of the problem. There are the complaints that copies or prints are too light. There’s the problem of student getting blank pages. And then the old “the copier ate my money but wouldn’t give me a copy.”

Luckily, there are so many good things about working in the library that most days, printer and copier problems can be placed in that larger perspective. But there are the other days, the days when I wish that I lived in a more peaceful era, the time before printers and copiers. Or I wish that I lived in a more advanced future time–when printer and copier problems no longer exist. Now that would be quite the utopia.