The Case Against Our Library’s Electronic Stapler

Aiden Chisolm ’23

Contributing Writer

Up until Friday night, I have struggled to describe my feelings towards the library’s electric stapler. As I waited for my political science readings to finish printing, the girl who used the printer before me asked a question that has long haunted my mind:

“Is there any other stapler besides that electric one?”

I answered, “No, I think it’s just that one and it’s pretty shitty.”

Then, with the utmost confidence she said, “oh yeah, it’s barbaric.” Anyone who has used the library’s electric stapler will understand this feeling. 

The electric stapler represents the very worst of innovation. The inventors of dynamite, the machine gun, and the atomic bomb all at least tried to make something so awful as to discourage war, according to my high school history teacher, but the electric stapler has no such good intentions. Its reason to exist is nothing more than to signal that we are living in the future with all this great technology.

If you are unconvinced let me ask you this: what does the electric stapler do better than a regular stapler? Innovation has historically increased the efficiency of completing a task while also decreasing the work required by humans. Let’s compare using both tools:

I took my political science reading, squared it against the desk, lined the stapler up with the desirable position and squeezed. Done.

Now using the electric stapler:

I took my political science reading, squared it against the counter, and put it into the electric stapler. Done.  Or not exactly because the depth was set too far in and now you can’t read a large part of the top-left. Ok, take the staple out, change the depth, put the packet in and now it’s too close to the corner. Take the staple out, change the depth slightly this time, put the packet in, and it’s not perfect but the bar is on the ground now. That was only the first packet.

The electric stapler removes all control from the user in order to make the process of stapling fractions of a second faster. As soon as the paper hits a switch, the electric stapler fires away, and with a clunky depth setter, it is impossible to get the desired result unlike the simple grace of the traditional option. This constant readjusting causes you to dig the staples out with your nails, making more work for the user.

The electric stapler not only fails at improving the job of stapling, but makes it even worse. Like so many innovations nowadays there is an unnecessary sacrificing of the useful: iPhones without headphone jacks, laptops lacking disk drives. The electric stapler has no method to influence the way the staple folds, or at least no apparent method. While on a regular stapler, one need simply push up and spin the metal face to cause the staples to fold outwards rather than inwards, making for an easier removal. Ironically this would be very convenient for the electric stapler.

Most damning of all, the electric stapler has completely taken away the joys of a simple task. Gone is the satisfying feedback from pressing a stapler down. No longer can one play with the spring hidden in its reload mechanism. In an age surrounded by screens and convenience the stapler was a reminder that not everything need be improved, that some things are perfectly fine the way they are.

Our library’s barbaric electric stapler needs to be replaced with a simple plain stapler. A regular stapler doesn’t need to be anchored by chain and cord across the room from the printer, a regular stapler doesn’t need a sign to identify itself. The electric stapler is shitty—out with the new, in with the old.

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    Catherine Simpson

    Catherine Simpson: So true King. There’s a stapler function built into the front of the printers themselves that work way better. You can also hit a setting to auto-staple documents as they come out of the machine. Try those.

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