Friday, July 3, 2009

Article: Sustainability Challenge for Academic Libraries

Sustainability Challenge for Academic Libraries: Planning for the Future College and Research Libraries / Maria A. Jankowska & James Marcum

Preprint / Accepted for publication / College and Research Libraries / Expected Publication: March 2010 / 20 pp.


There is growing concern that a variety of factors threaten the sustainability of academic libraries: developing and preserving print and digital collections, supplying and supporting rapidly changing technological and networking infrastructure, providing free services, maintaining growing costs of library buildings and lowering libraries‘ ecological footprint. This paper discusses the multi-dimensional issues of sustainability in academic libraries and identifies needs for designing an integrated framework for sustainable strategies in academic libraries. Additionally, the paper presents a synthesis of existing literature on the increasingly popular topic of 'green libraries' and prepares a background towards developing a framework for sustainable strategies in academic libraries.


Library Sustainability: A Literature Review

(1) Sustainability of scholarship and collections;
(2) Green library operations and practices;
(3) Green library buildings; and
(4) Measuring and improving sustainability.

Challenges to Sustainable Future of Libraries

Libraries as Environmental Consumers

Need for Sustainable Growth

Sustainable Strategies for Academic Libraries


Academic libraries have always been central components of universities. With universities and colleges developing and adopting sustainability indicators, academic libraries remain slow to either develop their own sustainability indicators or to adopt indicators already developed by other organizations.

Such indicators could become the basis for developing a comprehensive sustainability framework helping to assess the impacts of library operations and future projects on the library‘s sustainable progress. More specifically, such a framework could help libraries choose socially responsible vendors and publishers and help to evaluate operational strategies resulting in providing environmentally friendly products, energy savings, reduction of waste and keeping usage fees as low as possible.

All libraries strategic plans need to be grounded in the overarching framework combining the three standard dimensions (social, economic and environmental) of sustainable growth. Sustainable strategies need to be integrated into a platform for guiding future decisions about collections, library buildings, and the scale of preservation, digitalization, equipment, products and library networking service efforts. Such decisions need to take into account not only the cost of collection, equipment and labor, but also the cost of generated waste measured by the size of the ―ecological footprint resulting from library operations and services.

Library sustainability must become a strategic consideration balancing the assumptions of continued growth and expansion.

Notes and References



See Also


Book: Greening Libraries: Call For Submissions

Greening Libraries, edited by Monika Antonelli and Mark McCullough and published by Library Juice Press, is a collection of essays, papers and articles on various aspects of the green library movement.

The editors are seeking articles from a variety of perspectives on a wide range of topics related to green practices, sustainability and the library profession. Greening Libraries will offer an overview of important aspects of the growing green library movement, including, but not limited to, green buildings, alternative energy resources, conservation, green library services and practices, operations, programming, and outreach.

Objective of Book

It is difficult to turn on the television or read a news story today without learning about how green and sustainable practices are being implemented throughout society. Libraries are not exempt from these broader trends. In some cases, libraries and librarians have been at the forefront of these efforts. This book seeks to provide library professionals with a collection of articles and papers that will serve as a portal to understanding a wide range of green and sustainable practices within libraries and the library profession.

Suggested Topics:

Green Libraries

*Historical, current or future perspectives

Green Buildings

*How to build a green library
*LEED certification
*Platinum and Gold LEED Libraries
*Green renovations, LEED renovations
*Green and sustainable landscaping
*Alternative building materials and methods
*Green roofs
*The Chicago Standard


*Healthy buildings
*Staff and administration compliance and buy-in
*Energy audits
*Greenhouse gas emission inventories
*Alternative energy resources (geothermal, wind, solar)
*Energy conservation and reduction
*Water consumption and usage
*Going green and cost-effectiveness
*Thinking green about waste (composting, vermiculture)
*Recycling and reuse
*Resource sharing
*Green supplies (recycled paper, cleaners, pens, etc.)

Programming and Services

*Compliance and buy-in
*Public programming (peak oil, climate change, gardening, green living)
*Public services
*Community resource sharing
*Tool libraries
*Green transportation, car sharing, car pooling, bicycle promotion
*Library community gardens
*The library as a green community hub (CSA pick up, Freecycle, public transportation)

The Transition Town movement and Transition libraries

*Fostering sustainable communities

How Green is our Profession?

*New technologies
*Social networking
*Education, curriculum and training

Resource bibliography

Target Audience:

Library workers, public librarians, academic librarians, school librarians, library administrators, school administrators, public officials, higher education administrators, teachers, faculty, library school students, as well as anyone interested in issues related to sustainability and green practices.

Submission Guidelines:

The editors welcome submissions from librarians and library staff members from all types of libraries (public, academic, school, etc.) as well as administrators and educators who are interested or have experience creating green and sustainable libraries. The editors are open to a variety of submissions including research articles, how-to articles, essays and interviews.

Manuscript submissions should comply with the Chicago Manual of Style.

Deadline for Summaries: October 1, 2009

Submit a brief summary of your proposed article (250 words or less) to Monika Antonelli at or Mark McCullough at .

>>Electronic Submissions Only Please<<

Deadline for Manuscripts: February 1, 2010

Submit one electronic copy to Monika Antonelli at or Mark McCullough at

Suggested length is 1,500 to 5,000 words. Submissions should comply with the Chicago Manual of Style.

Editors contact information:

Monika Antonelli (Reference/Instruction Librarian) Minnesota State University, Mankato / 507-389-2507

Mark McCullough (Reference Services Coordinator) Minnesota State University, Mankato / /507-389-5154