E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship


Date of this Version

Fall 2003

Document Type



Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Fall 2003) 4(2-3). Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v04n03/Calloway_m01.htm.


Copyright 2003, the authors. Used by permission.



While it is difficult to predict what the future may hold in regard to paper use and recycling, without a doubt, academic libraries are sites of enormous consumption and they should be proactive in institutional improvements in waste management. A paperless society is unlikely to become a reality for a very long time, if ever, but what can libraries do now to discourage paper waste and encourage recycling? According to the results of this survey, libraries are taking steps to divert recyclables from the garbage. In the future, as people become even more accustomed to working in the electronic environment, thoughtless and excessive printing of documents simply to have hard copy will certainly diminish. As more students arrive equipped with laptops and PDAs the amount of paper used by patrons may also decrease. Already students are taking advantage of the e-mailing functions that are available through various indexes such as Proquest and EBSCO. Librarians should continue to take steps to control excessive and unnecessary printing by instructing patrons in marking articles and citations for printing and e-mailing articles. Staff can also show patrons how to use print preview, print selected pages or highlight text when printing from the Internet. The disadvantages of fee-based printing summarized by Ashmore and Morris must be weighed against the advantages, but it is the opinion of the authors that the possibilities outweigh the disadvantages. A fee-based system can discourage impulsive printing and promote conscientious use of the printer and, if a pay-to-print program is implemented with careful planning (Murphy), the protest from patrons should be minimal and the ultimate goal of reduced paper waste achieved. Libraries can also take steps toward closing the loop by purchasing recycled content paper for use in public and staff areas. While paper use and recycling are campus-wide concerns and require collaboration among all the units, libraries can become a model by allowing our decision-making to be guided by environmental protection principles in keeping with the Talloires Declaration.