Posts Tagged libraries

Copy costs vary across campus

I recently discovered that one of my classes this semester had 691 pages of readings waiting for me in the library.

As one who does not like the black hole atmosphere of the Business/School of Public and Environmental Affairs library, I make a lot of copies in the library so that I can enjoy the literature in my living room. This convenience comes to me at six cents a page.

At about the same time I realized the amount of copying facing me, a friend pointed out to me that photocopies cost different amounts at different places. Assuming you’re using your campus ID to make the copies, it’s six cents a page in the Business/SPEA library, then jumps to 7.5 cents a page in the dorms. By the time you climb the stairs to the photocopier in Woodburn Hall, the price has climbed even higher — nine cents a page.

The political science copier is not going to carry the “most expensive price known at IU” title for long. By the end of February, photocopiers in the dorms will climb to 10 cents a page. The variance in the price of making a copy on campus is staggering. I wanted to find out why.

I called Therese Owens, the assistant director of Duplicating Services and she simply stated, “As volume decreases, prices go up.”

To say the least, I was taken aback by her answer. Basically, she said that because students in the Business/SPEA library make so many copies, they are able to keep the price of copies down to six cents a page. Meanwhile, residents of the dorms are making less copies each year: 105,000 fewer copies in the 1997-98 school year than in the 1996-97 school year.

In essence, the conservative business types and the tree huggers are being rewarded for making lots of copies on campus, while people in the dorms are punished for not making enough copies.

As Owens explained to me, photocopiers have a large fixed cost associated with the equipment, plus the cost of the paper that goes into the machines. When students make a lot of copies, the cost per copy for the equipment drops, but when the students don’t make a lot of copies, the cost per copy for the equipment jumps.

In fact, across campus, students are making 11 percent fewer copies per year, meaning the cost per copy for the equipment will continue to increase. Why are students making fewer copies in the dorms, and, in general, around campus?

For one, students are now using the computer clusters to print out journal articles off of the World Wide Web for free as well as make copies off campus.

That said, Owens convinced me when she told me that Duplicating Services doesn’t “want to charge the students more than we have to” for the photocopying that remains unprintable.

Owens said that one of the ways Duplicating Services is hoping to reduce copy costs is by eliminating the coin-operating attachments to each copier. One-third of the cost of the equipment comes from the coin-op mechanisms.

In the end, though, a lot of it is a question of convenience and competition. Sure I can make copies for six cents a page in the Business/SPEA library. I can also make them for a nickel a page or less at any number of the copy shops around campus.

And that is precisely what my classmates and I did for our readings. We got the 691 pages from the library and headed off campus. Collectively, we saved both time and money. So if the prices go up next fall in the Business/SPEA library, you have my friends and me to blame.


No Comments

Libraries Share and Share Alike

By Adam Lederer
BI Columnist

Like many people, I watched the flooding down in Ft. Collins with horror.

Cars floated down the street and a trailer home complex was totally obliterated. A total of five lives were lost in the murky waters that covered the city.

At the same time, water was doing a number on nearly 480,000 books located in the basement of Colorado State University’s library.

There are many lessons for UW to learn from the flooding. There are also questions students should be asking.

The most obvious question concerns our own libraries: Are we prepared to cope with any unexpected natural disaster?

The answer surprised me, yes.

Bruce Hooper, director of risk management, has said federal documents located in the basement of Coe Library are replaceable.

However, Hooper overlooked the existence of the microfiche, microfilms, and student theses and dissertations. Those include a priceless collection of Wyoming newspapers that I’ve used in much of my research.

I’d also like to see Hooper replace “Wildlife Review February 1938-October 1939,” one of those “replaceable” federal documents.

However, the picture is not complete until you consult with Library Director Keith Cottam. UW’s libraries have Wyoming’s library disaster recovery coordinator on staff, Cottam assured me.

The library has three underground facilities including: the basement of Coe Library, the Science Library, and storage space for the Geology Library.

Additionally, the library has dealt with floods in the recent past.

On July 28, 1994, the Science Library suffered from a flash flood on campus.

Water poured through the roof of the library on the east end, which damaged 1,270 books. Quick action by library staff and friends minimized the damage from inbound water.

The water got into the library roof, the plaza like area between the Biological and Physical Sciences buildings, while it was being reconstructed.

There were two other minor floods in the UW libraries that same year.

It is clear, however, that the libraries are well positioned and equipped to handle any floods, or other disasters, which threaten our stacks.

What is sad, however, is that some people on campus are opposed to UW libraries granting the same borrowing privileges to CSU faculty and students that UW faculty and students enjoy here.

Those opposed to sharing information must not understand the mission of universities or have never needed material that’s not located in our libraries.

I have spent many hours in CSU’s library and I can tell you the flood will hurt my research efforts. It stored much of the information I needed in its basement.

I can also tell you I’ve checked out books from its library and carry one of its library cards around with me.

More importantly, if I’ve ever needed a book that either UW or CSU does not have, I’ve relied on interlibrary loan to get me the books.

Libraries and universities are about sharing knowledge. UW’s libraries are doing the right thing by sharing our books. I am sure CSU would do the same if the situation was reversed.

Adam Lederer is a graduate student in political science minoring in environment and natural resources. He earned his bachelor’s from UW in 1996.

, , ,

No Comments