New software program monitors student printing and paper usage

The College libraries, in conjunction with the Campus Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC), have started monitoring the number of pages printed by students on library printers to determine whether enough paper is being wasted to warrant a student usage quota. To determine this, every time a student logs onto a library computer, PaperCut, a software application, keeps track of how many pages the student prints.

CEAC started the process last semester, keeping tabs primarily on first-years. Now, PaperCut is being used monitor the printing practices of all students, said Stephanie Boyd, acting director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives.

No conclusive numbers have been reached on average printing output per student yet. “Without the full implementation the numbers were not accurate,” Boyd said.
While there are no current plans to implement a “pay-for-print” system or a quota, PaperCut does have the capability to manage one, according to Mark Berman, director of networks and systems at the Office of Information Technology.

CEAC anticipates the possibility of needing to monitor all library computers that do not require a login in order to print. “In order to use PaperCut, you need a Williams login and not all users of the public printers in the library are members of the Williams community,” Boyd said.
PaperCut does not currently measure printing from these computers, but a solution is in the works. “When a student – or anyone else – prints using a non-login machine they will need to authenticate for that print job,” said Walter Komorowski, head of library systems.

Williams is not the first liberal arts school to consider increasing its sustainability efforts through a printing quota. “Many of our peer schools have done the same,” Boyd said, emphasizing that the goal of the quota is not to unreasonably limit student printing, but rather to work with students, faculty and staff to determine the best limit on printing resources.

Regardless of a quota being enacted, the installation of PaperCut has already brought benefits to the College’s printing capabilities. “In terms of problems with printing, we had very few so far,” Komorowski said, adding that PaperCut makes printing poorly formatted PDFs easier and has allowed for the release station that controls the color printers at Jesup Hall.