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Vend print machine moved, still not near printers

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The printers are in the library, but the machine that sells the print cards is a building away, in the Student Center. After running out of money on her print card and having to forgo her place in line so she could make the trek to the Student Center to refill her card, Barbara Schaeffer, a Medical Billing student at Mercer, decided to take action.

Schaeffer wrote to Mercer’s Vice President for Administration and Chief Business Officer Jacob Eapen last April, letting him know that it was inconvenient to have to go from one building to another and then back again to purchase or refill a print card, and suggesting a solution: move the machine to the library.

Eapen responded to Schaeffer saying, “the matter will be looked into.” She followed up but got no more information. To her surprise when she arrived at campus on Monday, January 9, she saw that the Vend Print machine had indeed been moved, but rather than putting it in the library, where it is most needed, it had ended up just around the corner from its original location.

In an interview with The VOICE Commanding Officer of Security, Michael Flaherty explained the reason the machine was moved. He said, “I know why they moved it. The vending machines, the new Red Bull machine was interfering with [the Vend Print] machine. The machine was moved to make it more accessible to students.”

Schaeffer is not the only one who finds the print card locations (both new and old) frustrating. The College VOICE conducted a poll of 70 Mercer students which showed that of the 30 percent of students who regularly use the printers on campus, 85 percent find the location of the print card machine to be thoroughly inconvenient.

Donna Wolf, Mercer’s Reference Librarian, is familiar with the print card issues. She told The VOICE that between the hours of 8 and 10 am on February 14 –a typical day at her job– she was asked “at least five times” where the print card machine is located.

“We’re very service-oriented in the library. When [students] need to print, they need to print now because they’re headed to class. It just seems like poor student service,” Wolf said.

Security Chief Flaherty proposed a solution other than moving the machine again. He said, “Why not put a second one in? I don’t know what it costs, but if it would make the students more successful, then doesn’t that just make common sense?”

Lucia Brown-Joseph, Manager of the Bursar’s Office, has an opposing view. Brown-Joseph handles refilling the machine with cards and money. She adds that “Mercer can’t afford” having an additional print card machine in the library, as one machine “costs [approximately] 7,000 dollars.”

In an interview with a marketing vendor at ITC Systems, the company that makes Vend Print machines, a single unit costs $3,685. The Vend Print brochure says that the costs of the machines (and software) are made up for in savings because their clients have experienced a “19 percent savings in printing consumables” each year.

However, Executive Director of IT Services Susan Bowen explained that the Vend Print machine “is used not only in the library, but also in the computer graphics labs in the ES building.” She suggests this is why the Student Center is the right location for the machine, because it is between the two places where it is used.

Bowen is correct that the Vend Print machine is located between the two places where it might be used, the library and the ES Building, though it is far more frequently used in the library. The VOICE used a rolling distance measuring wheel and determined that the print card machine, in its new location, is 307 feet from the library and 474 feet from the ES labs.

Bowen went on to say that this year the school had planned to “assess the Vend Print software and its operation and make a recommendation to the College to keep this current system or replace it.”  Until that assessment is made, she doesn’t feel a second machine should be purchased.

Sophomore Michael Hernandez, a Liberal Arts major, suggests that the Vend Print machine “seems to be concealed” where it is currently located.

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