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ITS introduces high capacity printers

<ir="ltr">Over the summer, Information Technology Services (ITS) introduced five new public printers to campus. Featuring a simplified release system and greater printing capacity, three new black and white Canon printers are located in the Library and two are located in upper Sayles. The printers are expected to improve printing capabilities at the most-heavily trafficked printing locations on campus, according to Austin Robinson-Coolidge, Director of Technology Support. Robinson-Coolidge said that frequent problems with the old printers, along with a decreased paper holding capacity, prompted the change.

“We were just at a point where it was a rare week that we had all four of the Libe printers up and running, so it was time to replace them. The printers in Sayles were much newer, but there is an advantage to having the same printers in multiple locations. The library still prints about 65% of all campus printing, between faculty, staff, and students. We are always trying to make sure we have hardware that can stand up to the load, and that is the driving force behind the replacement.”

Kevin Chapman, an ITS Computing Support Specialist, said, “The printers in the library were four or five years old, and each of them had easily over one million pages per printer,” said “Last year, our totals were about 2.5 million pages printed,” he said.

The new printers have a much higher paper capacity, according to Robinson-Coolidge. “When you’re printing that much, just keeping paper in the device is a challenge. The old printers, the Xerox 2550s, had a 2,000-sheet capacity over four trays. The new Canons have a 5,000-sheet capacity each spread over three trays,” he said.

Higher paper capacity will mitigate the problem of empty trays and help student ITS workers re-fill printers less frequently, according to Kendra Stode, Computing Support Specialist. “The Help Desk is staffed by about 55 Carls. Every day at the start of every shift, they are monitoring printer levels in our primary locations and looking at remote locations. If a printer is out of paper, usually they bring paper with them. Then, we have an external support team when the printers break,” she said.

JordiKai Watanabe-Inouye ’17, Carltech worker and ITS CSA Liaison, said, “The amount of time we have to spend sending people out has decreased significantly because these printers can hold at least two times more paper. So that helps a significant amount, in terms of making sure Sayles has paper because I know that was a huge issue last year. Now, maybe once a day, max, do we have to refill,” she said. In addition to higher paper capacity, the new printers eliminate the laptop release station, and instead, students tap OneCards directly on the printer.

“One of the things that was intriguing about the new printers is that they allowed us to remove one of the steps for the release,” said Strode. “Instead of having extra equipment that was also going to break, now it’s all built into the device. So instead of having to swipe your card and enter things on the laptop, you do it all at the printer, and it’s lot more awesome.”

Watanabe said, “There’s less to worry about in terms of troubleshooting, so now, I think it will be a little bit easier.”

“I don’t think the new printers are going to drastically change how much we need to help people,” said Carltech worker Martin Hoffman ’19. “But they are nicer, and they seem to be holding up fine, even under the strain that we put them under. In the long run, I think the new printers will end up being an improvement because those old junky laptop release stations were kind of prone to failure.”

According to Stode, the money for the printer upgrades came from within the ITS’s budget and student tuition. “Ultimately, the money came from the students that come to campus. We have a budget that we take a lot of care of.”

ITS says the campus-wide printing problems that occurred at the beginning of the academic year will not repeat, as it was the result of the server being overwhelmed. Janet Scannel, Chief Technology Officer, said, “We didn’t know of the problem until people came back to campus and the volume of printing increased. We had to fix it while people were trying to use it,” which complicated the process.  

Robinson-Coolidge said that the new printers were not malfunctioning, and once the server was fixed, printing resumed on campus. “Since then, the problem has gone away. We’re not getting any reports,” he said.

Of the twelve public printers on campus, only five have been upgraded. Robinson-Coolidge said. “The older Canons are at the end of their life. We will figure out over the course of the year what to replace them with. This is a good stress test.”

Scannell said ITS wished to eventually upgrade all public printers, saying: “We all recognize that printing is an essential part of academics. We know how important it is to the academic work here at Carleton in all sorts of ways.”

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