Librarians manage a lot of information, much of it still in paper or other ‘analog’ formats (microfilm, videotape, etc.). There are many ways we can help minimize the impact of information services on the environment. It can be just what we do personnally, in our departments, in conjunction with others in our organization and also how we help to promote a culture of eco-friendly practices. I recently was an invited speaker to address this subject at the Southern California Association of Law Librarians (SCALL) Institute in Ventura, CA.
Going ‘digital’ is a good way to reduce and minimize the use of paper and the environmental impact paper has through its production, distribution, storage and disposal. At the same time, we have to understand that digital content and its access also has an environmental impact. For instance, in the article “Revealed: the environmental impact of Google Searches” in the London Times Online January 11, 2009 ” “a one-hit Google search taking less than a second … produces about 0.2g of CO2” according to Google. The article has an interesting overview of the environmental impact on searching and there are a number of others available. This is all a work in progress, but it is good that we examine the issue holistically and each do our part, however small or large, to counter-act the impact our presence and practices have on the environment.