This paper aims to describe the design and business characteristics of the system pertaining to efficient and viable public services, the technical perspective and also usage results from the productive prototype. When the academic library of our institution turned to consider cost-effective solutions that would combine management and accounting for both printing and photocopying, it was realized that there are no open-source or enterprise platforms that can support such characteristics. Instead of relying on commercial solutions, the construction of a service was planned by means of integrating community-based projects and developing any missing components.
The implementation of the system was based on the identification of appropriate open-source modules and on the development of ones that do not exist but are necessary to realize business procedures for credit reception, control and billing. Thus, the system integrates software for the management of printers and print tasks, for accounting for printing tasks, for user catalogues, for authentication modules and for the control of low level I/O operations. The aforementioned systems were integrated along with the following new modules that were developed to create a complete service.
Our prototype has been operating at our University since May 2011. The system was installed at four sites in reading rooms of the library. Three of them are located in different departments within the University campus, while the fourth is located in the last reading room that has not yet moved within the campus. In two years, more than 28,000 pages were printed and charged. The steady rise in the number of served requests leads us to the conclusion that the system can cope with the heavy use of photocopying machines.
The prototype described in this paper is a complete productive platform that is capable to accept money or credit over the counter or by using money receivers and provide billing and management for printing and photocopying. The system does not depend on any vendor technology, offers control, monitoring, receipts and reports and because it relies on open source can minimize the total costs of ownership. Scrutiny of the bibliography and market did not find any systems that could meet the aforementioned characteristics.
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