Monitoring and controlling lab printing

Question: The quantity of paper printed in our library and computer labs by students is out of control. A large number of these pages are wasted and not even used. What can be done?

The IT Guy says:
The best option is to train network computer users to adhere to acceptable use policies, which should include guidelines for acceptable uses of the printers. Some technical solutions for controlling printing behavior are available, however. Laser printers in common use areas are usually configured to be used through a print queue, which resides on the building file server. Depending on the operating system version in use, you may be able to specify the times of the day when the printer can be used. This can certainly be done manually, but an automated system is preferable. Before turning the print queue back on at the start of the day, check to see if any documents are left in the spool and delete them. These steps can help address unauthorized after-hours printing.

Software like Watchdog Print Monitor (for Windows based printer configurations) allows network administrators to go much further in monitoring network printing and implementing accountability mechanisms.

Consider in your acceptable use policies prohibiting users from printing directly from the internet. Insist that students copy and paste text, graphics, and referenced URLs into a word processing document, and further insist that each printed document include a header or footer with the student's name. This will help identify multi-page documents when different users print in succession.

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