• Harvard University
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  • Library Notes
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  • October 2010
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  • No. 1356
HCL Libraries Go Green

On the heels of the Harvard College Library Green Team's announced target of Green Leaf One certification for all libraries by January 1, three HCL units have met or surpassed the goal. Harvard's Office for Sustainability (OFS) recently recognized Tozzer Library and the Harvard Map Collection for achieving Green Leaf One and Houghton Library for achieving Green Leaf Four, becoming just the seventh workspace University-wide, and the second library workspace, along with HCL Operations, to reach the Green Office Program's highest level.

Though completing all four levels at once was challenging, Houghton came to the process with two advantages. First, many of the steps outlined in the program, such as adjusting thermostats, installing occupancy sensors, and using compact-fluorescent bulbs, had been initiated centrally by HCL Operations. In addition, the library had already met some of the criteria, thanks to the work of the Houghton "Greening" the Library Task Force, created as part of Houghton's three-year strategic plan.

Formed in the spring of 2009, as the HCL Green Team was convening, the Houghton task force was charged with identifying and recommending actions to help the library go green, including seeking Green Office certification. Other steps included increasing signage to keep staff and patrons informed about recycling; holding green orientation sessions for staff; pursuing projects to reduce energy consumption, like installing additional occupancy sensors; and reducing waste through the use of double-sided printing and the redesign of library stationery.

"When we started to work on Green Office certification, a good part of our homework had already been done," said staff assistant Monique Duhaime, who led the process and serves as Houghton's representative on the HCL Green Team. "It was still an intensive process to look at every single certification requirement, but once we got people's attention, I think staff got excited. As we went through the process, they began pointing out areas where we could do something differently, or additional steps we could take. Going forward, it's important we stay active and keep looking for ways to improve."

At Tozzer, acquisitions assistant Sarah Kasten echoed Duhaime, and credited the library's environmentally conscious staff with making the process easy.

"We already had people who were focused on steps like printing on both sides of paper, or reusing office supplies," she said. "I think the real value of the Green Office Program is that it provides some recognition of what we are already doing, which is a morale booster.

"Overall, the process was pretty easy," Kasten continued. "I think if we pursue other levels, we'll need to change some behaviors and some purchasing patterns, but with the enthusiasm that was generated through Leaf One and the high level of environmental literacy here, I think that process will be fairly painless."

Harvard Map Collection staff, including Joseph Garver, Scott Walker, Bonnie Burns, Whitley Frost, Louise Baptiste, Zuzana Nagy, and Jonathan Rosenwasser, worked with HCL Green Team chair Andy LaPlume, committing to taking a handful of steps—from using the power-saving mode on computers to encouraging recycling—to "green" their office and achieve certification.

"We were already doing many of the things involved in the certification, so it wasn’t a very big hurdle to reach Green Leaf One certification," said Garver, librarian for research services and collection development. “This program was something we all wanted to be involved in, and we were happy to join in an organizational effort to make the area where we work greener." 

To receive certification, offices must meet criteria that are increasingly rigorous for each level—from providing recycling bins at all work stations for Leaf One to asking commercial printers to use vegetable-based inks on library materials for Leaf Four. The completed checklist, along with the signatures of the office head or program director and at least 75 percent of staff, are then submitted to the OFS for review.

Although not an HCL unit, the Harvard University Archives (HUL) resides in Pusey and is a member of the HCL Green Team. They recently reached Leaf Two. Work is also under way on Green Office certification for units in Widener and Lamont libraries. Peter ReuellThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , Harvard College Library Communications