New Printing Software Baffles Students – The Bowdoin Orient


Lucas Dufalla
CUT CORNERS: A student swipes her OneCard to activate a printer using the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library’s PaperCut printing system. The IT department hopes PaperCut will be more accessible to students.

On Monday, Marcus Gadsden 24 spent his time before class like he had last year: going to the library 15 minutes early to print out an assignment. It was a tried and tested routine that he had refined over the past year.

This year, instead of logging into Pharos UniPrint as usual, Gadsden had a new system to tackle. Beginning in July, the College subscribed to PaperCut as a print provider.

This change marks the first time in 12 years that the College has switched to a different printing service. Since 2010, IT has relied on different versions of Pharos, including the Bowdoin-based “PolarPrint” service.

Gadsden is among the wave of students returning to campus faced with the change in the College’s printing department.

“As soon as I got there, there was a whole new system,” he said. “I ran into some trouble because I needed to print something for class, but I didn’t know how to print and had to email my teacher.”

Discussions within the IT department about the College’s print management system began over the summer when Pharos announced its transition to a subscription model.

According to Senior Director of Client Services and Technology Jason Pelletier, who helped select the new system, PaperCut costs the College the same as Pharos and better meets the College’s needs.

Pelletier believes the new printing service will make it easier for students, faculty and staff to print than before. Printing with PaperCut is part of the IT department’s commitment to focus on digital accessibility, he said.

One of PaperCut’s biggest advantages over Pharos UniPrint is its ability to scan words from documents to create a searchable PDF, Pelletier explained. The new printing system scans these documents into optical character recognition (OCR), which converts words from paper documents into machine-readable text.

“You will be able to scan to more places. You will be able to scan to your email address, you will be able to scan to [Microsoft] OneDrive,” he said.

In addition to scanning, PaperCut allows students to publish their print projects from any printer, instead of choosing just one.

Karen Jung, manager of access and user services at the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, believes that this system will not only be easier for students, but will also reduce paper waste, noting how often paper has been forgotten in the printers.

In addition to this service change, nearly half of Bowdoin’s 240 active printers are expected to be replaced with 110 new printers by the end of the academic year.

“It’s a big, big business. You have to plan and make sure you make the right decision,” Pelletier said.

Although Pelletier is excited about the change, some students like Gadsden are troubled by the sudden change in printing service.

“Why create a new printing system? said Gadsden. “Personally, I haven’t had any bad experiences with the old one.”

According to Jung, the wave of confused students who spoke to librarians about print earlier this year has dwindled significantly over the past week. She attributes the initial confusion to a learning curve.

“There were a lot of questions, but little by little people started [the application] settled on if they [want to print from] their personal device and figured out how to use it,” Jung said.

For Jon Sides ’24, the current system is better than the previous one, but he thinks it still has room to evolve. Sides explained that a few printers did not recognize his OneCard and asked him to reconfirm his personal information.

“If my OneCard was recognized and I didn’t have to re-enter my information every time I had to print, I would say ‘amazing, amazing, I love it,'” Sides said.

PaperCut has its own feature to encourage reduction in paper usage. To the right of the printer screen, users can locate their “environmental dashboard” which includes information such as how many trees their print has killed, as well as how many trees Bowdoin has in its together consumed.

“It’s not there to intentionally make students feel guilty,” Pelletier said. “[The features] help students become more aware of their paper consumption.

As of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the College has consumed 5.2 trees and contributed to the release of 550 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 34,459 bulb hours in paper production since Tuesday July 12.

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