New equipment -- such as colour printers, fax machines and scanners -- is expensive and for that reason, we need to consider such proposals carefully.
We have examined the idea of a colour printer on several occasions in the past and determined that we cannot afford to support the expense in the Health Sciences Library. We have consulted with the Mills Library and looked at an experiment run by the Innis Library with colour printing. Our conclusion is that the anticipated volume of copying would not bring in adequate revenue to make the purchase of a colour printer possible. The Mills Library is not far enough away to allow us to consider it a hardship to have to pick up copies there if a colour print is required.
The issue with a scanner is that we simply do not have the staff to provide the support a scanner requires. The best evidence we can consult indicates that about one third of the users of a scanner can get the required results on their own; another third requires assistance, and the final third really requires service or complete intervention in order to be successful. We do not have the staff even during the day to provide that level of support, and we can provide no technical support at all in the evening and on the weekends.
A fax machine is costly to purchase (or lease) and install and requires ongoing payment of telephone line charges. We could not bring in enough money from the use of such a service here in the Health Sciences Library to make a fax service self-supporting.
All of these services are available elsewhere on campus. In the face of difficulty providing adequate information resources required by the programmes we support in the Faculty of Health Sciences, it would be irresponsible to divert scarce funds to conveniences which are available reasonably close by.
I regret that we are not currently able to respond positively to these suggestions, but will continue to monitor the situation with respect to requests for all of these tools closely.
Answered by: Tom Flemming (Head of Public Services, McMaster University Health Sciences Library)