Charging for Printing
From Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki
Print control software helps to reduce unnecessary printing and recover printing costs. When enabled, print-control prompts users to confirm or reject each of their print jobs before queuing it for printing. Print Control displays a dialog showing the number of pages and the cost of the print-job along with a customizable message with payment instructions (such as, "Pay at the front desk"; or "You will need a smart card with sufficient funds in order to release your print job"; or "This charge will be added to your library account").
Some software enables an invoice/receipt can optionally be included as the last page of the print job. Cost recovery can be achieved through the following means:
- Automated Billing: When integrated with your Integrated Library System (ILS) using NCIP, printing charges can be applied directly to the patrons account.
- Print Vending: DiscoverStations can be used in conjunction with virtually all print vending/release stations,
- Secured Printer: The printer may be located at staffed desk or counter where users must pay to retrieve their printouts
- Honor System: Users are told the amount they owe and whom to pay.
Examples of Use
The John Vaughan Library at Northeastern State University has made use of Print Manager Plus as a way to handle our patrons printing needs. The software is loaded on to a print server to give access to the library’s printers. Our patrons have their own userids to access the computers. The userids are loaded into Print Manager Plus to let the patron have access to the printers. Each printer in the library is mapped via our university network to the Print Manager Plus software. Our students are allowed a certain number of pages that can be printed for a semester. This quota of paper is used was set by the reference librarians and was adjusted according to the needs of the students. In our particular case, we found that the majority of students using their quota before the end of the semester. The quota was increased until the majority of students were able to end the semester without exceeding their quota. By giving the students a quota, the students would judiciously assess whether to print or not. We also found that we had fewer unclaimed stacks of paper at the copiers than before we started using this method. Librarians and computers at the circulation, reference, and reserve desks have their accounts set to unlimited printing to accommodate printing needs. The software also allows later increments to the quota. In addition to the normal quota, students can buy an additional 100 sheets of paper for $5. This allows students with larger printing needs to increase their total allotment of paper throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, the print quota for each student is reset.
Products and Resources
- DiscoverStation's Integrated Print Control Features
- PrintingWorks cross platform print accounting solution.
- Ninja an open source print accounting/print release system. The source code for NINJA is available under GPL. Once you download it, the following might help in installation and configuration. There is also a Mailing list.
- Print Manager Plus's site for Academic Libraries
- Antamedia Print Manager Commercial software for print management