New library system speeds up printing process

Cat Zakrzewski

Northwestern University Library plans to activate a new printing system June 11 that will offer patrons features including an online payment method and the ability to release print jobs from any computer.

Students will now be able to pay for library printing by adding money to an online account, which will also allow them to monitor their balances and carbon footprints. Currently, students pay for printing in the library using the WildCARD CashStripe program. WildCARD CashStripe requires students to add money to their WildCARDs using “Cash-to-Card” machines.

The current technology in use is about 20 years old, and it was time for a change, said Bob Trautvetter, the library’s head of technology.

“The system won’t be breaking down,” Trautvetter said. “It will be easier for us to maintain.”

Although the system changes should speed up printing, students need to learn of the discontinuation of the WildCARD CashStripe program, said Clare Roccaforte, the director of library public relations.

According to an email University Services sent to the student body on April 20, students can transfer funds to the library’s new system or spend their CashStripe funds at vending machines and Kafe Kellogg until Jan. 31.

“It was important for us to be able to offer students an option to transfer their money from a customer service standpoint,” Roccaforte said.

The library decided to wait until after Spring Quarter finals to implement the new system. However, Trautvetter said, this plan has been in the works for more than a year.

“We didn’t want to throw this in during the middle of a quarter or exam week, any time that people are stressed and need their routines,” Roccaforte said.

In addition to the payment changes, the new system will allow students to release print jobs by simply entering their NetID and a four-digit PIN so they do not have to worry about forgetting WildCARDs when printing, Trautvetter said.

Students will also be able to send print jobs to the libraries from their dorms and off-campus housing, although printing from off-campus locations may require connection to a virtual private network, Roccaforte added.

Wireless printing will be improved, especially for Mac users. Trautvetter said this has been a growing issue as more students have purchased Macs. Trautvetter said many students log in to library desktops simply to access the documents they will need to print.

“It will eliminate that extra four minutes that it takes to sit down and log in to a library computer,” Roccaforte said.

To some students who regularly use the printing system at the library, an expedited printing process is a welcome change. Communication junior Anthony Tsao said the current system is sometimes a hassle.

“Printing systems should be up to date with the technology we have,” Tsao said. “We’re always looking for quicker and more efficient ways to do things, especially as college students with lots of events in our lives.”

Weinberg sophomore Ha Young Chung, who uses library printers about every other day, said being able to send print jobs from her dorm won’t make much of a difference.

“The printers are still here,” Chung said. “You’re going to have to make a trip here anyway.”

In addition to the new printing system, changes will be made to the current photocopying system, which also uses the WildCARD CashStripe program. The library will install scanners that allow students to scan materials to email or USB flash drives. Students will also have the option to scan to print for a fee. Currently the library has five of these machines. Ten additional machines will be installed in May, Trautvetter said.

“Getting that hardware installed and in place soon will make it easier for us to deal with the printing transition in June,” he said.

Because the library will implement the system after students leave for the summer, Trautvetter said he hopes the smaller demand for printers during this period will allow him to work out any problems that may arise.

“We should be good to go when everyone comes back in the fall,” Trautvetter said.

The printing changes will affect University Library, Mudd Science and Engineering Library, Boas Mathematics Library, Joseph Schaffner Library, Galter Health Sciences Library and Pritzker Legal Research Center, as well as the lab in the basement of University Library and Technological Institute.