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Printing Mofos

We have problems with patrons who come in a few minutes before closing time and print a huge document.

Case in point: today a guy came in about 20 minutes before closing, which you'd think would be enough time to print something quickly.
But it turned out it was a 70 page pdf with a complex image on each page.
The document came to $11, and the print machine won't accept more than $10. I had to accept his cash and run upstairs to the register to get change, then put in the staff override code on the printer. Honestly, I probably should have just said it wasn't possible because there's a reason we have that limit in place.
When I came back down, he was complaining that half his document came out as blank pages. We had about 2 minutes to close at that point. Since funds were already exchanged I told him to go quickly re-print his document.
He did so, but since it was such a long, image heavy document, it took more than 2 minutes to process and send to the printer, and the computer shut down automatically before it could finish.
He asked if I could print it from my staff computer--uh, no. I gave him a note that he had printing credit he could use tomorrow, but first I had to talk him out of receiving a full refund. First of all just no, second of all that would mean running back upstairs and voiding that transaction in the register, and it was already almost 10 minutes after closing. He was polite enough but I could also tell that he thought I should be making more of an effort to help print the document tonight. But I'm being paid hourly and I'm not getting a $20 check every few months to make up for the times I stay late with a patron.

Everyone on staff has had to deal with a case like this at least a few times. I know that patrons lingering after close is just a fact of life in a public library, but this particular incident seems avoidable. I'm wondering if we could start shutting the computers down at 7:50 instead of right at 8...maybe then people would get their print jobs done in time. I'm not sure if this would be considered unfair in some way though.

(Also, once I got home I realized that I forgot to shut down Millenium on my computer while I was dealing with this, so hopefully we don't get that "too many ports in use" error tomorrow morning. Argh!)


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 1st, 2014 02:01 am (UTC)
Our computers shut off 10 minutes before close...

Most of the time, that's great!

However, there's also:
* Holidays, where the system doesn't recognize that we close early and nothing shuts off in time and suddenly it's pandemonium.
* After several power brown-outs, black-outs due to storms, and just general time passing, the clock on the computers and the clock above the door wind up shifting and it's never that the computers shut off earlier, but rather that the time they recognize as 7:50 shifts closer and closer and closer to 8pm over time.
Aug. 1st, 2014 02:01 am (UTC)
If you can get it past the powers that be, then definitely have the computers shut down before closing time. Ours give warnings 30 minutes before closing time telling you to wrap it up. Then they shut down at 15 minutes before closing.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 1st, 2014 04:12 am (UTC)
Ours also shut off at ten minutes until closing, and believe me, sometimes it is nice to have the excuse of "I'm sorry, I literally cannot do that." I have occasionally allowed a patron to print from the staff computer in those last ten minutes, but only in highly unusual circumstances (it's homework, it's due tomorrow, and it's five pages or less). I definitely would not with a 70 page document.
Aug. 1st, 2014 04:38 am (UTC)
Oh wow, you're using Millennium! Wow, I haven't used that in years. Our computers are automatically scheduled to shut down 10 mins before closing and we can't override them. However the software used to do this is often painful and problematic. So you get problems either way. 😃
Aug. 1st, 2014 05:03 am (UTC)
We have a large format printer for posters that is not self service. Since it takes at least 10 minutes to print a poster (and usually longer) we refuse to start print jobs less than 30 minutes before closing. We also only off poster printing when full-time staff is available, which means no printing on evenings and weekends. All of this is on our website and on signs in the library. Makes closing and printing far less stressful.
Aug. 1st, 2014 06:55 am (UTC)
Ours won't let a new person sit down 10 minutes before closing and they shut everyone off 5 min before closing. We used to have a problem with people taking their time leaving when they shut off at closing. Much better now and people have gotten used to it.
Aug. 1st, 2014 01:59 pm (UTC)
And this is exactly why our public computers are set to shut down 5 minutes before close. It has made the closing process much smoother for us.
Aug. 1st, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
Blech. Our machines log off at five minutes to closing, and the exodus is always significant. It also helps to cut down on certain bits of mofoery.
Aug. 1st, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
I can't help thinking that it would have turned out better if the document actually printed. What's with the blank pages?
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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