Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Free printing, handle with care

Forget the old tune Does Anybody Really Know What Time it is? For me these last two weeks have been more of challenge knowing what day it is! Last week was Labor Day and technically a four-day workweek. I had my first weekend shift of the semester last weekend and worked through Monday, thus making it a six-day week (not Eight Days a Week or even Six Days on the Road). So even though today is Wednesday, it feels pretty Tuesday-ish to me. Enough so that when my 8 am student worker arrived at work this morning I asked her what she was doing here. She patiently explained, "Working my shift, it's Wednesday."

At least she appeared to answer patiently. It was early and I'm well known for not being a morning person.

We have been freakishly busy for the first two weeks of school. I don't know if there has been a change in the amount of work being assigned, or if it is simply a case of students utilizing the library and taking their work seriously. Either way, the result is excessive use of toner, paper, staplers, and paper clips. These things are part of a work station near the printer(s) that includes three staplers, a new one that is heavy duty, two three hole punches, assorted and paperclips for the masses. And yes, there is plenty of paper at the ready to feed the monster.

Trust me, the monster has been hungry. Why? The university offers free printing. Yes, free. While they do have to pay for printing in color, regular prints are free of charge. Did I mention printing is free? This is a good news, bad news sort of situation. It's a great opportunity for students to print out handouts for class, make hard copies of assignments as needed, and even print out the all-important ODE standards. It also means a real lack of concern if they print something not really wanted or needed. The purveying print attitude is quite cavalier. But worse than the willful destruction of recycled trees, it means many print jobs are left. What people choose to print (for free!) and leave sitting in the pick up bin for God and everyone to see is amazing. Similar to people feeling free to share their innermost secrets over their cell phones in the grocery store line, I have tossed many a charming print job in the recycle bin. Keep in mind really we try not to look at what is left, but when tossing at the end of a shift some things are hard to miss.

Just in the last month I have seen the scary:

  • Letters to a parole board office
  • Detailed medical conditions of family members
  • Letter to an advisor discussing a prison sentence as reason for missing class

And the usual, not so scary:

  • Email to professors
  • Complaints to professors
  • Requests for finances

It can be quite the conundrum. We do not want to see what is being printed, but we do want to toss things that may embarrass someone should it be left in the pick up bin at the end of the evening. I wish I could remind people to think before printing. There are fifteen computers in a lab type setting using the same printer. Others are going to riffle through your stuff to find their stuff. Hello!

On the bright side, we haven't lost a stapler, hole punch, tape dispenser, or pencil sharpener in three years. Why? Library's who use a security system have a wonderful invention at their disposal, tattle tags. I've tagged all of the above. If they leave the library in a back pack, the "alarm" rings.

Hey, don't laugh. It works.

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