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BHSU library makes environmental impact through book donation

Rhiannon Patterson, acquisition librarian at BHSU, has already started updating publications in the library. Older publications will be put on a used book sale. Books not donated locally will be sent to Better World Books.  

The E.Y. Berry Library and Learning Center at Black Hills State University made a significant impact on the environment through a book donation this spring, which resulted in nearly 4,500 gallons of water and more than 2,000 kilowatts of electricity saved.  

The library donated 70 boxes of books to the Better World Books program which collects and sells used books to fund literacy initiatives around the world. Books that cannot be resold because they are outdated or unrepairable are recycled.

The BHSU library recently received a report on the environmental impact of its 70 boxes donated to Better World Books.

A total of 550 books (752 pounds) were recycled and 100 books (136 pounds) were reused. The recycled and reused books equaled nine trees.

Of the 550 books recycled, 97 percent of them were able to be recycled into usable fiber.

Donating the books saved 4,499 gallons of water and 2,120 kilowatts of electricity that otherwise would have been used in paper production for new products. The donation also eliminated 1,372 pounds of greenhouse gases that would have been produced from the 1 cubic yard of landfill space the books would have occupied if thrown out.

The energy savings from recycling the books fits in with the University’s green practices, said Rhiannon Patterson, acquisition librarian at BHSU.

“When you see that nine trees were saved and how much water and electricity was saved from printing, you really take a step back and realize just what 70 boxes of books can do,” Patterson said.

The University’s donation to Better World Books included outdated collections. Patterson said the books were first included in a used book sale and offered to campus departments. The library then offered the books to the Spearfish public library.

“We try to always find a local home before using another outlet,” Patterson said.

After the books were declined by local outlets, they were donated to Better World Books.

Money collected from the 100 books that were resold was donated to Room to Read. Room to Read works with youth in Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and hone a reading habit, as well as encourage girls to complete secondary education with necessary life skills to succeed not only in school, but after graduation. Donors to Better World Books are able to choose from several programs to donate the proceeds from resold books.

“The program has helped 1.7 million children so far,” Patterson said. “That really spoke to me. And now BHSU is one of them.”

Patterson said the library plans to donate to Better World Books at least once a year.

“I am already taking stock of what I have in the library and what I can donate next year,” she said. 

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