In search of “Copier Use: The Musical”

My department office manager has been concerned for a few weeks recently with paper use, and while this is the sort of thing I always told myself I’d hate myself for writing, I committed it. I remember a long, long time ago, far, far away, seeing monthly lists of which faculty used how many pieces of paper… showing up as hard copies in mailboxes, of course. These lists were generated by having codes required for copier use (to track said use) … and since people tended to forget to clear the codes when they were done making their copies (especially when said people were either faculty or graduate students), the statistics were less than a trustworthy representation of who was responsible for how many copies. So it was with a few self-conscious winces that I wrote an email to my colleagues about paper use, primarily to ask them and graduate students to copy double-sided and scan whenever possible rather than making single-sided copies.

Winces aside, in my neck of the woods, two cases of paper costs about $75, a department my size will go through a sizable chunk of paper in a year even if we scanned more and the vast majority of sheets coming out of the copier had both sides with printing… and I’d rather spend money on things other than paper if I can (such as graduate-student support). So I wrote the email….

And the email had the subject line “Copier use – the musical.” I know you may be thinking “what???!!” Give me some leeway, here: if I have to be bureaucratic, I need to keep my colleagues’ attention. Except I didn’t have a musical, so I announced its cancellation (Broadway’s fallen on hard times) and then continued on with an email that I hoped explained things in as gentle and comic a way as I could.

But now that I have had to announce the cancellation of what never existed in the first place, I really want a copier-use musical, complete with a grand Andrew Lloyd Webber-like opening piece sung by the (tenor) service technician, a clever Sondheimesque ballad for a faculty member scanning stuff late into the night, and a Busby Berkeley routine of faculty and graduate students waiting in line to copy a book, a quiz, a paper.

Submissions of said musical are more than welcome to be submitted over the transom of my office.1

Addendum: According to my department’s staff, double-sided copying has shot up over the past half-week. Kudos to my colleagues!

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  1. Or by email, since my office does not have a transom. []

One response to “In search of “Copier Use: The Musical””

  1. Susan Ohanian

    For “Copier Use: The Musical,” I offer a possible subplot involving the paper thief. In my first year of teaching, which was so long ago we used ditto machines, I was so desperate to offer New York City students something more relevant than Silas Marner, I typed up short stories, provocative items from newspaper, whatever. I got students involved in writing their own melodramatic tale set in our school. Every day before first period I handed out copies of the latest installment. Students lined up at the door. Soon I had to do an identity check before giving over a copy, making sure each recipient was in one of my classes. Before long, I’d used up all the paper in the faculty room. I began to go to school early so I could steal paper from the office. Secretaries locked the supply cabinet. Paper panic. I had to buy paper. A ream of my own.