When you trek to the library, perhaps you are on a mission to cram before exams or to finish up that research paper you keep putting off. During one of those visits, you may stop and notice that the library is devoting its display cases to the environment, specifically to campus recycling efforts.
Since the beginning of spring semester, Fairfield’s DiMenna-Nyselius Library has featured eight display cases, two floor-to-ceiling displays in the foyer and several smaller cases near the main staircase, that all incorporate the theme of recycling.
“I had initially wanted them [the displays] up in March and April to coincide with Earth Day,” said Chris Dunham, the reference and media librarian and the library’s recycling coordinator. “But it turned out to be a good reminder for the start of the semester.”
The library is one of several buildings on campus participating in recycling initiatives, such as the installment of the blue bins for paper products. One such display case in the foyer demonstrates the use of these bins and what products should be placed in them.
Inside the smaller cases are also piles of CDs, sneakers, computer equipment and other everyday items that are commonly thrown away in the wrong bins.
“The recycling aspect of the exhibit lets people know that so many things that we use every day will wind up in a landfill if thrown in any of the trash receptacles,” said Devin Hagan ’06, the library’s circulation assistant. Hagan also worked with Dunham to create the display cases.
Hagan said he hopes that when students read the captions in the cases they will understand what “can be reused if a little extra effort is put forth to find out where and when that type of recycling takes place.”
Although the displays will remain intact only through early March, the library will continue to participate in recycling ventures. It currently recycles about two “toters,” or large, wheeled plastic containers, of paper per week.
“Besides Sodexho, we recycle more than any other building on campus,” said Dunham.
Older magazine and newspaper subscriptions, once converted to microfiche, go into the recycled paper stream. Cardboard and ink cartridges are also salvaged.
Every two years, the library also recycles outdated electronics. This technology is cleared of private data then dismantled and often reused.
In addition, the display cases have sparked conversation among the Fairfield community and visitors.
Hagan said he noticed tour guides stopping to explain the initiative behind the cases to prospective students. He said he hopes this will “lead to further discussions about what is happening on campus.”
Dunham said that student response has been positive. In the beginning, he said he noticed that students often dropped cans and bottles into the paper-only blue bins, but “after the first week, it is now running well.”
Kristin Villanueva ’09, who recently noticed the display, thinks it will raise awareness about the environment but believes more should be done.
“I’m not sure how many people go to the library, especially the people who live off campus or in the townhouses,” said Villanueva. “Maybe there should be more display cases in the BCC because more people go through there.”
Dunham added that the display cases are just the beginning of future campus-wide, green endeavors.
“I’m excited about the prospect [of] campus recycling programs,” said Dunham. “We just need the infrastructure in place.”