The DeWitt Wallace Library and its staff are committed to working toward a more sustainable Macalester community. The list below reflects some of our most recent efforts to conserve campus resources and model responsible green behavior.
At a library, one of the greatest challenges to sustainability is the use (or misuse) of paper. The DeWitt Wallace Library faces the normal paper costs associated with a library such as those incurred from books and periodicals and, because printing is free at Macalester, we also have a relatively high amount of printed paper waste. It is with these facts in mind that the library has worked to increase its sustainability in a variety of ways.
One of the key ways in which the library attempts to be more sustainable is through recycling. Recycle bins are available on all floors, and we work to ensure that unwanted paper makes it into them. Library employees reuse some of the collected scratch paper when printing is required for routine internal library tasks. Notifications to students for overdue items and hold pick-ups are no longer paper, but are sent electronically. Student workers are evaluated using online paperless forms. Junk paper is used for a number of internal documents and incoming CLIC holds. Even the old card catalogue cards are being reused as scratch paper!
Working with ITS and MacCARES, the library also collects its discarded one-sided paper to be used in the “Onesies Notebook” project. The paper is rebound and distributed as notebooks to students to further facilitate recycling of paper.
The library has also begun a direct mail waste initiative. Library staff receive a lot of bulk mailings from publishers and others that often go directly to the recycling bin. We are embarking on a project to keep this mail from coming in the first place. Staff place unwanted mailings in a designated bin and, prior to recycling, student workers investigate and follow the necessary steps to remove names from mailing lists.
We promote and maintain the Digital Commons electronic publishing archive for the Macalester College community and are transitioning many of our reference and periodical collections from printed copies to electronic versions. The library also posts documents on moodle and e-reserves and offers information sessions to teach students how to take notes in pdfs.
On February 25, 2009, the library disabled all public and staff printers for 8.5 hours. Library staff and Macalester’s Sustainability Office co-sponsored the event, dubbed “Waste Less Wednesday,” to call attention to the amount of printing that is done just in the library. The event was one of several campus activities supporting the Minnesota Campus Energy Challenge and was a featured campus initiative for Recyclomania 2009. During the day, library and ITS staff provided guidelines for interested users on how to use electronic options for classroom and personal study needs in lieu of printing. Library Director Terri Fishel and campus Sustainability Manager Suzanne Savanick Hansen also hosted community members in a lunchtime discussion of ways to encourage sustainable printing practices across campus.
Whenever possible, books weeded from library collections are donated to Better World Books, an organization promoting literacy initiatives worldwide. Books unable to be accepted by BWB are sent to a recycling facility.
Other Energy-Saving Efforts
The library works hard to make the printers and computers themselves as sustainable as possible. Public computers are set to duplex printing as the default print option. Print release stations also help to reduce unnecessary printing and allow the library to collect accurate data on printing to assist us in future efforts. All library printing paper is made from 30% recycled paper. Whenever possible, we purchase remanufactured toner cartridges, and used toner cartridges are recycled. The computers themselves are set to go to "sleep" during periods of non-use and to automatically shut down each night to save energy.
In addition to these policies and projects, the library also uses automatic turn-off lights in the stacks to save energy, leaving only safety (perimeter) lights on overnight. In the past year, all large-sized fluorescent bulbs were replaced with ones using slightly less energy. We’ve posted signs on the hand-dryers to remind students that these can be turned off manually. 2009 was the 10th year of handing out reusable beverage containers to all incoming first-year students!
The library recently added a flat-screen TV to staff training space, and encourages staff participation in "webinar" training and professional development opportunities. This reduces the amount of air travel by staff.
Many library staff are opting for laptops instead of desktop workstations when they are up for replacement computers. According to information shared at the Nov. 2009 Educause conference, laptops use up to 80% less energy than desktop workstations.
The library’s sustainability team plans to build on the above successes and to continue to promote sustainability within our facility and across campus.