Syracuse University School of Information Studies alumna Louise Schaper G’84 wrote an article “Our Zero-Carbon Campaign” for the BackTalk section of the Library Journal.

Schaper, former executive director of the Fayetteville Public Library in Fayetteville, Arkansas, wrote that she had a sudden realization while at the New Zealand annual library conference that she had not analyzed a key part about the relationships between libraries and sustainability.

“I hadn’t even finished getting across the idea that sustainability needs to be worked into a library’s values, mission, goals, objectives, policies, and processes when I knew I hadn’t gone far enough,” she wrote. “The real edge, I realized, is for libraries to make a national or even global commitment to carbon reduction—because it is the right thing to do.”

She continued to say that educational institutions, governments, and corporations are committed to reducing their carbon footprint, specifically mentioning the University of California and several major cities that have pledged to aggressively reduce their carbon emissions.

For libraries, Schaper suggests that public libraries could save $33 million by reducing energy consumption by 10 percent by changing from CFL to LED light bulbs or switching to more energy-efficient computing.

“Add all the other types of libraries and spread this across the globe, and you can see the positive impact of carbon reduction,” she wrote. “Our profession inhabits more facilities in the United States than a major fast food chain, and as such, we have a responsibility to make carbon reduction a central part of our mutual mission.”

Schaper concludes that libraries and library associations need to take action, setting a goal of zero-carbon use in libraries by 2025.

“This initiative would result in a ‘triple bottom line’—to borrow a phrase from the Urban Libraries Council’s 2010 Partners for the Future report on sustainable communities,” she wrote. “By being cheaper to operate and replete with planet-friendly practices and functions, libraries would be elevated in stature in their communities and beyond.”