I’ve seen some crazy stuff around the printers at the ITS Center ? three Rochester Institute of Technology students printing their entire semester’s syllabus, three copies of a 500-page-manual printing at the same time on different printers and countless unclaimed fliers for campus events. Everyone at UR ? and the surrounding area ? seems to know where to go for free printing.

I’m just as guilty. When my printer ink ran out in freshman year, I just bought myself floppy disk and I was off to the ITS center. After e-reserves started, who wouldn’t use free printing?

ITS wasn’t prepared for the onslaught and the library system wasn’t prepared to foot the bill that resulted from so many print jobs, so much wasted paper, and abuse of the system. We all knew that it would have to end. And, of course, now that it’s ending, students are complaining. After over a year of free printing, who really wants to start paying?

But, in all the furor over costs, we can’t forget the benefits of the new e-reserve system.

I feel like an old man, but I remember the old days. I remember checking out reserves from the circulation desk during reserve hours and only having two hours to make copies of the book. I remember waiting hours for one student to return the only copy of reserve material. I also remember going to class unprepared because the reserve material was not returned.

We cannot forget how much better the system is now. You can print reserves off in your room at your own leisure. You don’t have to go to the library to read them. Even if it won’t be free to print in the ITS Center, you can still print at home, which is much cheaper than the $.08 a copy at a library copy machine. It is definitely much faster than copying by hand.

It won’t be the end of the world when UR starts charging for printing later this year, and it is important to realize how much better our new system is compare to the old one.

But, there can be ways for UR to minimize students’ unhappiness with the charges.

UR cannot forget those who come to campus without a printer. There is a simple solution. A credit of 500 pages should be given to every student to start a semester to cushion the burden of printing costs. This credit will especially help those students on campus without a computer or those who have a large number of e-reserves.

Professors must be wary of placing huge amounts of reading material online once UR starts charging for copies. It would be wiser to make a course pack of readings at the beginning of the semester that students can buy in the bookstore and can be produced cheaper in bulk and sold at the UR Bookstore.

Student anger over the new charges should not overshadow appreciation of the benefits of e-reserves and the impressive system UR has created for us.

Hildebrandt can be reached at thildebrandt@campustimes.org.

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