Educate Don’t Alienate

photo by Julian Clark

photo by Julian Clark

Print management seems to be one of those perennial topics in the library world.   Not sure why it gets brought up every so often.  I’ve often heard tales of woe from other library staff in regards to the time, money and energy put into these “management” systems.  But why is this such a bug-a-boo topic for librarians?

I would love to say it is because they are all green and want to save the environment.  I would love to say it is because they are budget conscience and want to save money for things like books, computers, salaries, etc.  But honestly what I hear really boils down to “It’s Not Fair!” kind of attitude.  Does that really belong in customer service?

Does putting a hurdle between the customer and what they want equate to good customer service?  Putting said hurdle there just inconveinces the majority of good people and really doesn’t punish the few offenders (there is a way around every system and if they want to find it they will).   So why do we use these systems?

Here is a completely radical idea – don’t charge, don’t monitor, don’t manage but instead educate.  I know people will say but they’ll print reams and reams of paper and use all our toner.  Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.  Maybe we need to be looking at WHY people supposedly print so much.  We need to educate them about the alternatives.  Do customers realize how much paper they use or toner?  Probably not but putting a hurdle such as a print management system in the middle doesn’t really educate them but alienates them.  Why not start a campaign to educate your customers?  Let them know that one “page” on the web does NOT equate to one page of paper.  Do they know how much a carton of printer paper costs?  Do they realize how much toner a printer goes through in a day, a week, a month?  Encourage them to go green or recycle.  Why not encourage them to donate a carton or paper or money toward toner costs.   Don’t put just a sign next to the printer but include this in your fund raising events, put information on your web site and all your social web places as well.  If education is one of the many parts that make up the library whole then let us get to educating the customer not placing hurdles in their way.

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3 Responses to Educate Don’t Alienate

  1. wolfshowl says:

    We don’t charge for printing. Nobody’s really abused this yet, and I’ve been here over a year. However, we are a special library, so I think our patrons are more inclined to only print what they really need.

  2. thedonofpages says:

    Human nature is to waste what is free. Oceans are overfished, beaches no longer have clams by the wagonload, wells go dry as the water table is drawn down from overuse, big antlers go on the wall while the meat is left to rot. Trees are made into paper for Library printers. Everyone wants it if it’s Free! Even Free isn’t cheap enough for some people: they steal from the collection. Here printing is 15 cents per page.

  3. Christian says:

    Our library has free printing and our students abuse it left and right by printing out copies of textbooks, corporate IRS filings and dissertations. We don’t get any extra money for printing from administration, so we have to cover costs from our office supply budget. You’d be surprised by how many people get outright hostile, regardless of how tactful you try to be, when told that they’re abusing the system and asked to stop. I’m all for providing great service, but where I am, there’s enough wankers that I’m tired of educating people about common-sense issues… /rant

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