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October 6, 2005

Copy this: More options for same price in new digital library copiers

The UW Libraries is getting new copy machines this week, and with the new machines will come some expanded services.


“Our copy machines were five years old and had really reached the end of their useful lives,” said Adam Hall, manager of reference and research services operations for Suzzallo Library. “They were also photocopiers, as opposed to digital copiers, which is pretty much all anyone produces anymore.”


The new machines — which are digital copiers — are Canon brand machines from the vendor IKON Office Solutions. All the machines will be capable of printing double-sided copy on both 8 1/2 x 11″ and 8 1/2 x 14″ paper. And for the first time, the machines in the Art Library, Architecture and Urban Planning Library and the Maps Collection will provide self-service color copying and 11 x 17″ paper.


Despite the increase in services, the price of copying will remain the same — 12.5 cents per side with a Copy Quick Card and 15 cents per side with cash.


The new machines will make it possible for some library patrons to do both copying and printing from the same machine. The new machines, Hall explained, are capable of functioning not only as copiers, but also as printers, scanners or FAX machines, depending on which functions are turned on.


The libraries has no plans to connect the machines to phone lines, so the FAX functionality will not be used. However, the machines in three libraries — Mathematics Research, Drama and Physics/Astronomy — will serve as printers for the public computer terminals there, as well as producing copies.


With the installation of the new machines, all libraries in the system now have public printing capability, something that was not true in the past.


Publications Services will oversee the copy and printing services in the libraries, as it has done for a long time. However, this year for the first time, staff from the libraries and Publications Services formed a joint steering committee to work on choosing the vendor for the new machines. As part of the process, machines from two vendors were installed in Suzzallo Library and copying was offered free in exchange for users filling out a survey. Survey results were used to help choose the machines to be installed.


The steering committee is also putting together the first-ever memo of understanding between the libraries and Publications Services. “Publications Services and the libraries have worked symbiotically for a while but we’ve never worked as closely hand in hand as we’ve wanted to,” Hall said. “We both think having a permanent joint steering committee is a good thing.”


The memo of understanding will spell out the type of copy and print services to be provided, who will support these services, an agreed-upon response time when equipment trouble reports are made, how to provide services when equipment will be out of order for a longer period of time and libraries staff responsibilities for timely reporting of equipment trouble.


Hall said the scanning capability of the machines may well be used some day, though not now, because it would save a lot of paper to allow people to scan straight to e-mail. “Right now there are questions about how these machines can allow scanning to the campus network within a secure environment,” he said. “Also, Publications Services needs to figure out how to charge for scanning.”


The steering committee also asked manufacturers to look into providing a USB port so a user would be able to scan to a device such as a memory stick. “That’s probably another generation of copier, but I’m sure that’s coming down the pike, too,” Hall said.


In the meantime, staff at the libraries are happy to get some brand new machines to greet the returning hordes of users that come with fall quarter.


“The technology is so good right now,” Hall said. “Whether we’re able to do it all at once or not, what we can do ultimately is pretty exciting.”