What’s Our Impact? Calculating the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of an Academic Research Library


According to the Society of American Archivists' Core Values Statement on Sustainability, "caring for collections and serving communities—along with developing acquisition, processing, storage, and service models—must necessarily involve an ongoing awareness of the impact of archival work on the environment." Similarly, the American Library Assocation’s Core Values of Librarianship states that libraries are “leading by example by taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint.”

It is now widely accepted that humanity must rapidly decarbonize to avoid the worst impacts of future climate change, but in order to contribute to a societal net zero goal, the library and archives professions must have a better understanding of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their activities. This presentation will share the results of a 2021 study at Penn State University to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions generated in one year by its academic library system. It will also explore initial findings from an effort to estimate the emissions generated by the energy consumption and environmental controls employed at a dedicated archival storage facility.

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