Need for Green Libraries

Dr  Meghna Dhar

Great libraries are fruits and roots of great civilizations. From times immemorial, a library is a temple of learning where light of knowledge burns brightly. These are rich springs from which knowledge flows to irrigate the wide field of education and culture. Awareness in the field of environment sciences is becoming a global talk. People worldwide are realizing its importance .Careful handling of today’s environment would only serve as a legacy for tomorrow’s generation. The libraries have a function to impart knowledge not only to its users but it has also an important role to preserve our rich literary heritage. Libraries are not merely store-house of reading material collected for preservation but it functions as a dynamic instrument of environment education so as to protect our mother earth .One of the essential qualities of a well designed library is to create an atmosphere of pleasantness, comfort, suitability and of appropriateness. The finest efforts of library builders should be that, a library built is environment friendly place where everyone would like to go, a place with a comfort just like their homes. In order to give aesthetic appearance to library and to promote green values, building of “green library building movement” is in progress. The concept of Green emerged in the early 1990’s. “Green Library” which is also known as a sustainable library is built keeping in view the environmental ethics in mind. Public libraries can create environmental awareness to the common man which will result in improvement of overall environment. A green library is designed to minimize negative impact on the natural environment and maximize indoor environmental quality by means of careful site selection, use of natural construction materials and biodegradable products, conservation of resources (water, energy, paper), and  waste disposal by recycling, etc
Need for Green Libraries
Environmental factors are responsible for decay and deterioration of all kinds of library materials, whatever may be the physical constituents of a particular material. These environmental conditions can be fungus, temperature, light and darkness, humidity and moisture, water, smoke, dust, dirt, air pollution etc. Some of the environmental factors that cause deterioration under extreme conditions are as follows:-
Pollution: Atmospheric contamination is a major cause of chemical degradation in paper .The impurities of air are sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, nitrogen-di-oxide, ozone, aerosols, carbon-di-oxide, carbon monoxide and other chemical compounds. Dirt, smoke, dust and solid particles such as sand and oil soot are the most common solid materials to cause damage. In order to control the pollution and green house gases in environment green libraries are required. There is dire necessity that excessive noise pollution should be controlled as much as it is possible so that readers and staff members are not disturbed in their work.
Fungus:-Fungus destroys the paper and the leather leaves white scars on the books. Humidity helps to grow more and more. It grows much more when humidity is above 70% and most when it reaches 90% and temperature is between 250 C  and 380C.To keep these away proper ventilation is required.
Light: – Light may be natural or artificial. Natural light is the sunlight and artificial light is the light of electric bulbs and fluorescent. The ultra-violet rays coming direct from sun are harmful to library material. Therefore library material should never be exposed to direct sun rays. Light plays a greater role in becoming the planet green.
What Steps a Library can take
in Developing Green Libraries:
It has been rightly said that prevention is better than cure. For this purpose the following preventive measures should be taken into consideration while planning green libraries.
Building: The site of the building, the soil on which it will be constructed, the environmental setting of the building and such other factors have the impact over the environmental setting of the building and such other factors have the impact over the environmental control inside the library building. If the building is old one the existing building can be suitably modified and restructured to facilitate eco-friendly environment control. Regular cleaning of building, periodic decoration, prompt attention to lighting difficulties, and other services if properly rendered contribute greatly to the efficiency of the administration of the library. Frequent white washing minimizes moisture.
Temperature:  A library building should be air -conditioned for ensuring desired levels temperature in different seasons .The ideal room temperature in the library  is 20-25 0 C with relative humidity of 45-55% for preservation of library material is required. This condition can be created by air conditioning. During the summer months when the temperature is considerably high the windows should be kept closed. The windows should be fitted with coloured glass panes. If these windows are to be kept open then curtains should be used for cooling during hot season. Floors can be cleaned by wet dusters. Exhaust fans should be fitted to the stack rooms. For cooling purpose if air conditioning is not feasible, air coolers should be made use of otherwise electric fans /air circulators /pedestal/ceiling fans /high speed air circulators may also be used .After the sunsets, the windows may be kept open till the closure of the library hours.
Humidity and Moisture: If humidity recorded is around 70% or more ,this should be brought down to about 55% by using dehumidification measures .It can be done by using dehydrating agents like silica  gel or anhydrous calcium chloride. Rain water should not be allowed to enter the building and all water leakage should be sealed off to prevent moisture.
Lighting: Efforts should be made to provide as much as possible natural light through sun breakers. Eco-friendly paints on the wall can be used to reflect more light Coloured glass panes usually yellow or green and curtains should be used in the windows to control ultra-violet rays and other harmful rays of direct sunlight, rain water and dust coming from outside. LED bulbs which also saves electricity has no ultra- violet rays that can damage library material. Light and darkness are both enemies and friends of library materials. Use of LED’s instead of tube lights can reduce power expenses to some extent. Turning off switches of electric lights, A.C’s, Ceiling Fans etc. can also reduce power expenses in the library when not in use. Laptops use less electricity than desktop versions.
Ventilation: – The reading room and stack room should have the proper benefit of natural ventilation. Exhaust fans should be installed in sufficient number so that polluted air is pumped out and fresh air is pumped in regularly.
Noise Pollution: Noise is an unwanted unpleasant sound that irritates us. The noise is caused due to electric fans and ventilators, use of telephones, mobile phones, walking in corridors’ or stairways or near entrances and other types of equipment, may be minimized. For this purpose acoustical material for walls and ceilings in corridors, reading rooms and workrooms should used.
Beautification of Library Building: – The libraries should always be kept clean and fresh. The walls of the library should be decorated with paintings depicting environment awareness quotes.
Indoor Plants and Outdoor Plants: – In order to give aesthetic look to the library building, the concept of indoor gardening and outdoor gardening in the library can attract many irregular users and convert them into regular users of library. Potted indoor plants and flowers can purify the air around you as well as which specific pollutant each one targets and removes. This can create eco-friendly environment and one can think we are being greener. Decorative plants can even be placed outside the windows on the shelves on the outer side of the window. The trees can provide smoothing effect to our eyes. It reduces the atmospheric glare and gives us a feeling of protection and comfort. Trees provide shelter during summer season. Reader’s can take the shelter of a tree and do his/her studies as it was done during older days under natural environment. Sitting arrangement can be made outside the library . For this purpose suitable furniture can also be arranged  .Different medicinal plants can be grown outside the library even  botanical garden can also be developed, this will  not only add awareness among public but will also increase knowledge among students.
Some of the libraries in India that has taken Initiatives for designing Green Libraries as under:
Druk WhiteLotus School, Perma Karpo Library, Ladakh  ,
National Library of India, Kolkata.
Cambridge Library,Chennai,
Anna Centenary Library, Chennai,
NIT Library, Silchar.
Mumbai University Library Systems.
Anna Centenary Library, Chennai, Largest Green Library in Asia
(The author is Assistant Professor in University of Jammu, Jammu.)