Patrons visiting the Coeur d’Alene Public Library — 702 E. Front Ave. — in the last two weeks have found they have greater control over the printing they do from the computers.
The new system is also saving the library money and reducing the amount of wasted paper and printing supplies.
The Internet and Writing Room computers on the upper level of the library have been linked to a coin-operated photocopier and patrons now know exactly how many pages they are printing and how much they will cost before they get up from their chairs.
A print-release program installed by Information Technology Coordinator Christopher Brannon uses a touch-screen monitor next to the copier where patrons enter their library card or guest pass numbers to see a list of the items they wanted printed. Patrons then deposit their money to release the print jobs. Multiple jobs can be sent to the printer and are held in the system’s memory and the patron can collect them with one trip to the copier.
Previously computer-users sent printing to a laser printer and would have to sift through the pile of papers to find their pages and would pay for them at the check-out desk.
“The old system had several flaws,” said Library Director Bette Ammon. “One of our main concerns was the privacy issue. Someone printing out bank statements or tax forms, for example, was sending sensitive information to a place that was in the public view.”
Brannon said that the system allows only the person who ordered the printing to access those pages. If a patron has sent a print job in error it can still be canceled at the copier end or simply ignored. He added that print jobs that are not picked up are erased from the system’s memory at the end of each day when the network shuts down.
Another issue was wasted paper and printing toner.
“It wasn’t always apparent to everybody how many pages they might be printing from a large document or a web page,” Ammon said. “They may have wanted only one or two pages and accidently printed 50. And we also had people who printed material and forgot to pay for it when they left the building or left without picking up their print jobs at all.”
Brannon said that a review of the records for the past two weeks indicate the new system has increase printing revenues by $150 and reduced wasted paper and supplies by about the same amount — a cost-saving that projects to about $7,200 a year.
“It’s very satisfying for the library staff when something is fiscally responsible, gives patrons more control and is good for the environment,” Ammon said.