Letter: Scan stations should not nickel-and-dime students

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Anjelica Colliard/Staff

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I was outraged the other night when I tried to use one of the new “Book Scanning Stations” at the library and discovered that I have to pay for the privilege of scanning a document to my USB flash drive.

This, after receiving an email from “Ryan” from the Northern Regional Library Facility that “We cannot fill your request as a photocopy because of the length of the article.”

So not only do I have to do my own work to scan my article, because of some arbitrary limit which there is no posted information about (let’s say for argument’s sake that it’s 10 pages), I apparently also have to pay eight cents a page (actually it’s supposed to be five cents for UCB students, but the scanner was malfunctioning and tried to charge me eight cents) if I don’t have my own scanner to scan my 81-page article.

Let’s do the math here. Suppose eight different students request a 10-page article scanned from the NRLF this week. I think it would be safe to assume that their articles are of the “right” length, and that their requests would be fulfilled. However, an 80-page article that one person requests — and, by the way, it’s the only time I’ve requested an article from the NRLF in the last 10 months — is denied because it’s “too long.” So instead of getting an 80-page article, I am shipped a 1,000-page volume, out of which I am supposed to scan 80 pages, and I am also expected to pay eight cents times 80 pages, which comes out to $6.40, in addition to all the trouble I have to go through. Either that, or I canuse my crappy scanner at home, where the text close to the binding of my 1,000-page volume will be warped and/or completely black, because I don’t have a fancy book scanner like the NRLF does.

Either way, I think I lose.

A colleague of mine had this reaction upon discovering my predicament: “It is ridiculous to make people pay for a service that should be free.” Another sentiment expressed was as follows: “Wait — are they expecting people to do that?”

Apparently, they are expecting to drain whatever cash students have left by nickel-and-diming them at copy machines — and it’s not even for making copies.

If I am not going to be allowed to request scans of “long” articles from the NRLF, the very least the library can do is provide the equipment for me to do it myself for no more than the time and energy it takes to do it.

As it is, the library’s fancy new scan stations are sitting unused because somebody thought it would be a good idea to charge poor students for a service that should be free.

— Dominic Yu, Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics