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


1 comment:

CBS Radio said...

Do you want to start living green and learn how to lead a sustainable life? Join award winning host Dave Egbert and listen live to his new show “Living Green” that is coming soon on! Listen, call-in, email or twitter, as Dave and his guests which include celebrities, prominent individuals and organizations to discuss sustainable and organic topics, issues and ideas for everyone!!

Saturdays at 9AM-11AM EST