Loving Libraries

Library Lovers Day If you’ve had enough of the consumerism of Valentine’s Day (so maybe Hallmark didn’t invent this celebration or even Mother’s Day, but they certainly enjoy the profits) you can celebrate Library Lover’s Day on 14 February. Libraries have always been eco-minded because they lend books, CDs, DVDs, etc, with many people using the same item over and over, decreasing the need for each person to buy their own copy. Consumption uses finite resources and produces greenhouse gas emissions.

I’m particularly enamoured of libraries because I’m a librarian. I don’t work in a library right now so I visit my local library once a week to get my reading and movie viewing fix. And my research on teenagers’ reading habits means I also frequent Curtin University Library. Remember to visit a nearby library to celebrate Library Lover’s Day.

To improve the eco-friendliness of libraries even more, some newly built libraries have incorporated sustainable building practices in their design. I read about two such libraries in the November 2007 issue of Incite, the magazine of ALIA, my professional association.

The Wallsend District Library in Newcastle (New South Wales) opened in May 2006 and includes ecologically sustainable design principles [1]. It looks like any other library building, but it also has

  • a north-south orientation
  • AAA basin taps and 3L/6L dual flush toilets
  • extensive use of natural light
  • energy smart light fittings. A Building Management System (BMS) controls lighting and air handling systems. Automation means systems are only operational when required
  • heating and cooling through a displacement air handling system which is adequate for half the year. When outside air temperatures are higher or lower than a specified range, the econo-cycle of the air conditioning system is used and power consumption is reduced by up to 80%
  • hot water from an instantaneous gas system
  • paper and waste recycling facilities provided throughout the building
  • water harvest and reuse through on-site storm water retention that provides water for toilet flushing and nature strip irrigation [2]

The library building has been rated with six stars as part of Newcastle City Council’s ECOSTAR program. This is the highest rating a building can achieve. I was interested to see that the building doesn’t have any on-site electricity generation such as solar panels. I guess they thought the building’s increased energy efficiency was sufficient.

In Queensland, the building which houses the new library at Toowoomba’s Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE was awarded the Harry Marks Award for Sustainable Architecture [2]. It was also shortlisted for the RAIA’s national awards which were announced 25 October 2007.

From a UK perspective, Fiona Harrington recently wrote A vision for Libraries, an inspiring piece on the importance of libraries and the multitude of resources they provide,

bring on the Internet, provide the DVDs, the CDs, the coffee, the sofas, the Tai-Chi and language classes – oh and books too, lots of them! [4]



  1. Nelson, Noelle (2007) “A fantastic new Wallsend Library after 60 years” Incite magazine, vol.28, no.11, p.25.
  2. City of Newcastle (2006) Our Green Library.
  3. “Making news” (2007) Incite magazine, vol.28, no.11, p.42.
  4. Harrington, Fiona (2008) “A vision for LibrariesA World to Win, 9 Jan.

4 thoughts on “Loving Libraries

  1. Pingback: Go Greener, Australia » Blog Archive » Green Valentine’s Day

  2. I miss Australian libraries. I know librarians, my Mum included, moan and groan about limited resources but they should come over here. British libraries are woeful.

    We have one that’s open for a couple of two-hour slots a week, the selection of books, CDs, videos etc is pathetic, and it seems to be almost impossible to get inter-library loans. This is the fifth or six British library that I’ve used and they’ve all been bad.

    It’s almost enough to send me running back to Oz!

  3. The centralised system of sharing books statewide that was developed in WA about 50 years ago was chosen because the State Librarian at the time was from England and he didn’t want WA’s rural libraries to end up like rural English libraries. Smaller WA rural libraries sometimes are only open a few hours a week, but they regularly get new (and pre-loved) stock as it rotates around the state’s public libraries. And inter-library loans of this stock are free and very easy to do.

    There are some problems with the system and the current State Librarian came from another state and she doesn’t agree with how useful it is. I think she’s working up to getting rid of it, slowly but surely.

  4. Pingback: Organiser Girl » links for 2008-02-13

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