CAUL Council of Australian University Librarians.

Last updated 23 September, 1996

Thank you for your responses to my enquiry about user pays solutions for printing from computer workstations. Some responses expressed interest in knowing how others were dealing with it so I have assumed that none of the responses were intended to be confidential and I have done a cut and paste of most of the replies below.

We are likely to go for a low tech option initially using 1 laser printer to 2 workstations and a switch between them. With laser printers now being quite cheap we hope to keep the charge down to the same as our photocopy charge. When others braver than us have perfected networked solutions we may be ready to follow.

Colin R. Taylor, Deputy University Librarian
University of South Australia, The Levels, S.A., 5095
Tel. (08) 83023093 Fax. (08) 83023382

Griffith University

At Griffith we have found ourselves in the same situation as you describe.The solution we are working on (and we haven't got there yet) is to install a networked printer (a Hewlett Packard Laser Jet 5si MX) with an attached Pentium which will be used as the print queue manager.A Hetper resourcebox attached to the printer allows photocopy resource cards to print jobs. Individual jobs will be identified by workstation number.

Monash University

At Monash we charge for all printing at the rate of 10 cents per page (laser printed). We have separate solutions for:

(a) standalone printers;

(b) printers linked to individual networked computers that can access CD-ROMs or other networked resources

(c) for networked printers.

(a) Standalone printers: These laser printers are linked to a computer (NOT NETWORKED) with a Unicard reader installed. This is the same Unicard terminal that also reads cards used for our photocopying service. To use this facility, students first save the results of their search on a floppy, then go this facility, and insert their floppy into the drive. To activate the printer, they need to insert their value added card (photocopying card) into the Unicard terminal, which automatically deducts 10 cents worth of credit from the card for each page printed.

(b) Printers linked to individual networked workstations. These printers also have Unicard terminals installed, and students have to insert their Unicard into the terminals to activate the printers. This is a more expensive solution than (a) and is used mainly for our imaging system, where it is not possible in many cases to save all the images on floppy.

(c) Networked printers. Students are required initially to deposit a sum of money with the Computer Centre (minimum $5.00). To use any of the University's networked resources they will first have to logon to a student server. Any printing on a networked printer will incur a charge which is automatically debited against their account. The networked printers are owned by various departments, and students can choose to print on any printer shown in the menu (in the case of library resources, only library owned networked printers are shown). The Computer Centre credits any amount earned back to the department that owns the printer.

Central Queensland University

For its CD-ROM machines and public access Internet machine CQU has 4 machines linked to one printer via a data switch. Unicard, the managers of our photocopying service have installed a card reader on each printer.

Queensland University of Technology

Gaynor Austen (QUT University Librarian) asked me to reply to you on this subject. I am the Manager of Copying Services QUT which is a self funded (QUT) business providing copying and laser printing at QUT and various other univeristies and TAFE colleges in this region.

First a little background on Copying Services and it's role in providing computer printing.

* For many years Copying Services has operated an assignment printing laboratory providing laser printing controlled with our Hetper magnetic card system. This service currently produces approximately 2 million laser prints each year.

* In January this year Copying Services took over management of reference area based printing in QUT Library. Copying Services replaced free dot matrix printing with user pay laser printing. Part of the change included the provsion of day to day maintenance of the printing system which was previously provided on an ad hoc basis by Librarians and Library systems group personnel.

The system adopted by QUT was to place laser printers on a ratio of two PC's sharing one card system controlled laser printer. Hewlett Packard 4 printers were selected after a fairly exhaustive look at the market. HP4's were selected on the basis of long term operating life and therefore cheaper effective operating costs.

The decision to have a limit of two PC's to one printer, using a manual data switch box, is based on the following factors:

* Clients have direct access to the printer;

* With the printer placed between the two PC's, the users can easily communicate with each other with regard to individually accessing the printer;

* The magnetic card is visible at all times, therefore security (of the client's card) is not a problem;

* The client can see the output immediately and re-do the print job if required. In my experience this is a very common problem, for example printing one page instead of all pages etc.

* The manual data switch ensures that it is difficult to print the wrong material and/or on the wrong card.

In summary, the decision to operate on the basis of one laser printer to two PC's was based on a perceived client focus that this system addressed the client needs of speed, security and access. Six months after starting, the change to user pay printing which included an upgrade from free dot matrix to user pay laser printing has been very well accepted by the our client group and is operating very well.

The other option for providing user pay laser printing is that of directing all print requests through Novell software to a central print server and a single printer. This is highly efficient in its use of equipment and is in use at QUT at several computer laboratories using the Hetper card system, but I personally have some reservations regarding the client "friendliness" of the system.

With this system all print requests are spooled to a central print server accessible to all clients (but this does not need to be in the same physical area as the workstations). After submitting the print requests the client goes to the print server where all jobs wait before being manually prompted for printing. The client would insert their card, double click on their print jobs (which may or may not be protected with a PIN number), and the jobs prints and their card decremented.

My problem with this system is that if the print job is in-correct in any way then the poor client has to go back to the workstation, re-start the search / software etc and start the whole process over again. In my experience people have problems with printing fairly regularly. Your internal IT staff should be able to set-up a networked printing solution for you without much difficulty. General to advanced knowledge of Novell networks would be required (assuming you are running Novell) to initiate such a system.

A company called BEAR Solutions is marketing a system based on the print server system described above. Their system is called "Uniprint". Their contact is 02 9484 4188. I suspect however that they would try to sell you their card payment system also.

Also, a former technical staffer from Hetper Electronics (our card system providor/manufacturer) actually lives and works in Adelaide now. He owns a company called "Adelaide Computer Fix Pty Ltd" and by virtue of his experience with card payment systems and also networked computer systems, may provide valuable expert assitance if you want to go down the networked path and can not call on internal expertise. His name is David Colquhoun, Adelaide Computer Fix Pty Ltd - Phone 8221 5422. I have taken the oppotunity to indicate to him that you may be contacting him.

James S. Milne
Manager, Copying Services, QUT Library
Phone: 07 3864 2724
FAX: 07 3864 2014

Deakin University

At Deakin, we have just decided to install a stand alone PC workstation with attached laser printer and charge for copying from that workstation. We will attach a copytex terminal to the printer so that we can charge. A user can down load (most) data files to a floppy disk and then go to the standalone printer station to get the high quality print.

This decision was based on the problem, in our network environment, of charging when the printer device is networked. Our ITS Division may have solved the problem by writing some clever software as they have just announced a network laser printing service, for a fee, using the copytex terminal as the charging device. They had been trying to install this service for over 12 months so the solution was not easy to find!

We have chosen this option on the basis of cost efficiency. We could not afford to have too many laser printers.

There are problems with our solution. There are some FTP files that are too large to fit on a floppy disk. We are still trying to work out how best to provide a service in such cases.

Northern Territory University

At NTU, we have a Unicard charging device attached to each public workstation used for Internet access or for our networked CD-ROMs. We also have these devices attached to the Business Periodicals Ondisc and Social Sciences Index fulltext workstations, but there they are only connected to our laser printers from which the full text images are printed. We do not charge for printouts of index or abstract entries, which come out on cheap dot matrix printers using continuous forms.

We have been able to at least break even on this exercise by adding the public workstations to our agreement with the Students Union in respect of photocopiers. In this arrangement, which is reviewed annually, the Students Union install and maintain all publicly accessible photocopiers in the library and the Unicard metering devices attached to them. They pay us a royalty of one cent per photocopied or printed page, or $15,000 per annum, whichever is higher. They set the charging rates per copy. There are "hotline" telephones in the photocopy area - which is next to the public workstation area at our Casuarina campus - so that students can call for assistance from the Students Union in case of equipment failures. Target response times for such calls were written into the agreement.

This arrangement seems to work well: the Library is essentially only providing the real estate for the equipment, and our staff costs relating to this service are minimal.

Stephen Harrison
Manager, Library Information Technology
Northern Territory University
P.O. Box 41246 phone +61 8 8946 6176
Casuarina NT 0811 Australia fax +61 8 8945 1317

University of Newcastle

At Newcastle we have installed charge card boxes and printers for each PC on the CD network. Our costing at the time said that we would get our investment back in just over two years, but of course that was on the existing volume of printing and it went down when they had to pay! For full-text databases we will be restricting to individual workstations with full charging setup and expect that the volume of printing will cover costs there.

We would like to replace all our ASCII OPAC terminals with PCs so that we can offer all services from each workstation and will be making first steps in this direction next year. At the moment we believe that the best solution for print-charging in this environment will be to share a printer and card box between each two workstations. This at least halves the cost of installation -- to go any further gets you too far into the hassles of resolving conflicts where somebody has just paid for somebody else's queued printing.

University of Technology, Sydney

UTS uses UNICRAD with a harging uint between 2 printers I think.

Works well.

University of Western Australia

At UWA Library we are about to trial a new printing system where the >computer workstations print to a print server and clients then go to a >separate self service printstation PC to select their printout for printing >on a networked laser printer and have their photcopy account automatically >debited for the cost of the printout. The charging mechanism only only >attached to the self service printstation PC. This system has been proposed >by our photocopy card system supplier and overcomes the problems of having >a charging mechanism for each individual computer workstation. If you would >like to know more then please contact me.

>Stephen Trefry Email:
>Manager, Information Technology Tel : +61 9 380 2359
>Library Fax : +61 9 380 1012
>University of Western Australia
>Nedlands WA 6907

University of Western Sydney

The Chief Librarian, UWS Nepean, Kaye Welsh has asked me to reply to your request for ideas for recovering the cost of students printing from computer workstations in the Library.

At Nepean we recover costs using the unicard system. One debit card reader is attached to three machines. This is achieved by using a manual switchbox. Two other possible systems are setting up a network printer, which would require a print server and create a print que, and in many instances students aren't sure that they are paying for what they print, as well as being time consuming and expensive. Another possibility is that the printer is located in a staff area and students present their card to the staff to pay for their printing, but this is costly in staff time. The advantages of a manual switchbox is that it is easy for the students to understand, low in staff time and students are sure they are paying for their own printing. All it requires is a cable from the computers to the switch box, which then connects to the debit card reader and then to the printer. We use laser printing. The students switch the switch manually, each workstation is numbered so they know that their research will be printed, it's up to them to make sure they switch and remove their cards so others don't use them.

If you require any more information on this type of arrangement, our Associate Librarian, Technical Services, Anita Crotty, will be happy to talk to you, her contact details follow.

Anita Crotty
Associate Librarian
Technical Services
UWS Nepean
Ph. (02) 8525885
Fax. (02) 8525940

University of Queensland

Janine has passed your mail to me for direct reply. Our initial solution to this problem was to attach card readers to printers to use the same charging card system as used by the photocopiers as you have suggested. Three devices can be attached to the card readers that we have and in some cases we share a card reader between 2 or 3 printers. We also share printers between some workstations. Manual switching between devices causes fewer problems and reminds people to insert their card.

The next step which we have introduced in some libraries is the print station. Clients need to bring a disk so that they can download data to be printed and take it to the print station where they use their swipe card to print from a standalone printer. Next year with a new photocopy facility management contract we hope to be able to send prints to the print station via the network so that jobs queue until the client enters a pin number and then uses a swipe card to pay for the prints.

This will have us in a good position for the transition to sending the data to a photocopier via the network and using a pin number and swipe card to get the copier to "print" the result. With this in mind, we are starting to purchase some digital copiers. This idea should also work well where our staff need inhouse copying done.

I hope this is useful information. Who knows how future changes in technology might alter this plan!

Joan Foote
Library Administration
University of Queensland

Charles Sturt University

At Charles Sturt University we were also concerned at the increasing volume of copying resulting from database searches, particularly once we were able to offer fulltext periodicals.

The cost of consumables was one issue, maintenance of networked printers was another.

Our solution has been to disable all printing from computer workstations. Users are now required to download all search results.

For printing we provide a single stand alone pc with Copytex card controlled laser printer attached.

Our Senior Information Services Librarian, Karin Smith has created a menu to cater for the different download formats. Users select the appropriate database to print out results. I am sure Karin would be pleased to provide further details. (

There was very little adverse reaction from students in our move from free dot matrix printing to laser printing at 10 cents per page.

Volume of printing from databases within the library has fallen as

many users have opted to take their results away on disk to print at home or in the computer centre.

Staff from the University of Western Sydney have looked at our sytem with a view to modifying it to accept swipe cards.

Stephen Parnell
Bathurst Library Director
Charles Sturt University
Private Bag 45
Bathurst NSW Australia 2795
tel; 61 63 384528
fax: 61 63 384600

University of Western Sydney (Macarthur)

We are just installing what we call a print kiosk for this type of printing. We stole the idea from Charles Sturt. It is very neat and simple. I've seen it in practice at their Bathurst campus and it works. Fuji Xerox is conjunction with Bear Solution our ID card people are installing it here, but Charles Sturt did it themshlves. The contact person at CS is Stephen Parnell on 069 384528

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