v.22 #6 Building Sustainable Libraries Preliminary Survey Results

by | Jan 19, 2011 | 0 comments

by Justin Miller, M.P.A. (Doctoral Student, Adult, Higher & Community Education, Green Funding Specialist, Council on the Environment; Phone: 765-285-5085) jmmiller5@bsu.edu

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Guest Editor’s Note: The “Building Sustainable Libraries Survey” gathers information on sustainability efforts at academic libraries across the United States. These preliminary results will be followed by a final report, in greater depth, released next year by Berkshire Publishing Group and Against The Grain. — KC

Over 1/4 (26.9%) of respondents have a sustainability-related degree or research center.

 On average, over 1/2 (56.1%) have taken steps to green computer equipment purchasing and services, with the most popular being sharing printers (95.8%), recycling of equipment (87%), and examining cloud computing (71.4%).

As an area for improvement, on average, only 1/4 (23.7%) of institutions chose books based on sustainability criteria, and no institutions report asking suppliers about books sourcing or supply chain.

While over half (56%) of respondents favor electronic resources, fewer (40%) have data on the printing of these resources, and no institutions have inquired on the vendor holding an Environmental Product Declaration.

With the exception of scientific and economics/business journals, the majority of respondents feel that available resources on environmental sustainability are “satisfactory.”

On average, almost 1/3 (30.8%) of respondents have implemented some sustainably positive physical changes, with natural lighting, LCD monitors, computer shut downs, and low-water landscaping being the most popular.

On average, almost 3/4 (72.6%) of respondents have implemented sustainably positive changes in terms of supplies, with paper recycling bins (100%), recycle-content paper supplies (96.2%) and the encouragement to reduce office supplies and paper (96.2%) being the most popular.

Over half of respondents belong to AASHE and/or are signatories of the ACUPCC. None of the respondents thought their institution had signed the Talloires Declaration (see below and “Practicing Sustainable Environmental Solutions: A Call for Green Policy in Academic Libraries).


We, the presidents, rectors, and vice chancellors of universities from all regions of the world are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources.

Local, regional, and global air and water pollution; accumulation and distribution of toxic wastes; destruction and depletion of forests, soil, and water; depletion of the ozone layer and emission of “green house” gases threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species, the integrity of the earth and its biodiversity, the security of nations, and the heritage of future generations. These environmental changes are caused by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patterns that aggravate poverty in many regions of the world.

We believe that urgent actions are needed to address these fundamental problems and reverse the trends. Stabilization of human population, adoption of environmentally sound industrial and agricultural technologies, reforestation, and ecological restoration are crucial elements in creating an equitable and sustainable future for all humankind in harmony with nature.

Universities have a major role in the education, research, policy formation, and information exchange necessary to make these goals possible. Thus, university leaders must initiate and support mobilization of internal and external resources so that their institutions respond to this urgent challenge.

We, therefore, agree to take the following actions:

1. Increase Awareness of Environmentally Sustainable Development. Use every opportunity to raise public, government, industry, foundation, and university awareness by openly addressing the urgent need to move toward an environmentally sustainable future.

2. Create an Institutional Culture of Sustainability. Encourage all universities to engage in education, research, policy formation, and information exchange on population, environment, and development to move toward global sustainability.

3. Educate for Environmentally Responsible Citizenship. Establish programs to produce expertise in environmental management, sustainable economic development, population, and related fields to ensure that all university graduates are environmentally literate and have the awareness and understanding to be ecologically responsible citizens.

4. Foster Environmental Literacy For All. Create programs to develop the capability of university faculty to teach environmental literacy to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

5. Practice Institutional Ecology. Set an example of environmental responsibility by establishing institutional ecology policies and practices of resource conservation, recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally sound operations.

6. Involve All Stakeholders. Encourage involvement of government, foundations, and industry in supporting interdisciplinary research, education, policy formation, and information exchange in environmentally sustainable development. Expand work with community and nongovernmental organizations to assist in finding solutions to environmental problems.

7. Collaborate for Interdisciplinary Approaches. Convene university faculty and administrators with environmental practitioners to develop interdisciplinary approaches to curricula, research initiatives, operations, and outreach activities that support an environmentally sustainable future.

8. Enhance Capacity of Primary and Secondary Schools. Establish partnerships with primary and secondary schools to help develop the capacity for interdisciplinary teaching about population, environment, and sustainable development.

9. Broaden Service and Outreach Nationally and Internationally. Work with national and international organizations to promote a worldwide university effort toward a sustainable future.

10. Maintain the Movement. Establish a Secretariat and a steering committee to continue this momentum, and to inform and support each other’s efforts in carrying out this declaration.

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