In this week’s Princh Library Blog, guest writer Nina Grant talks about something that’s always present, but rarely thought about; air, or more precisely, the air quality in libraries, and how certain activities can be the source of major air pollution. Enjoy!

Think about the last time you walked into a library. The smell of old books might have hit you—a scent that many book lovers cherish. But lurking beneath that nostalgic smell could be something less pleasant and more harmful—pollutants from printers and copiers. It’s something we rarely consider, but the choice of printing techniques and equipment can significantly affect the air quality in library spaces. And when it comes to keeping the air clean, every little bit helps.

Printers and Indoor Air Quality

Libraries are sanctuaries of knowledge, which offer a quiet place for study, research, and leisure reading. However, the very tools that make information accessible—printers and copiers—can compromise the air we breathe indoors. But how is the question? In simple terms, these machines emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles (UFPs) during use, and over time, these pollutants can accumulate, potentially affecting the health of both staff and visitors. It might not be something you can see, but it’s certainly something to be mindful of.

It’s important to remember that not all printers are created equal. Some are notorious polluters, while others are designed with environmental considerations in mind. The difference lies in the technology. Laser printers, for example, are known for emitting higher levels of pollutants compared to their inkjet counterparts. This distinction becomes crucial in library settings where printers run frequently. So when libraries choose eco-friendly models and implement smart printing strategies, they actually drastically reduce their indoor air pollution. It’s a simple yet effective way to make a big difference in maintaining a healthy environment for everyone.

Here are some examples of printer models and series that have been recognized for their eco-friendly features:

  1. Ricoh GelJet Printers: Although less common, Ricoh’s GelJet printers use fast-drying viscous ink, offering an energy-efficient alternative to traditional laser printers. They are designed to have lower energy consumption and reduced emissions.
  1. HP PageWide Printers: HP’s PageWide technology claims to reduce energy consumption by up to 71% compared to laser printers, making it an eco-friendlier choice. Additionally, HP participates in global recycling programs, encouraging the responsible disposal and recycling of printer cartridges.

On-demand Demo with Princhy

Learn the key aspects of Princh! Watch our on-demand demos at your convenience and see what makes Princh such a simple solution. Watch our demos here.

  1. Brother INKvestment Tank Printers: Similar to Epson’s EcoTank, Brother’s INKvestment Tank printers focus on reducing cartridge waste with re-engineered ink cartridges that hold more ink and support more prints, thereby lessening the environmental footprint.
  1. Canon PIXMA G Series: Canon’s PIXMA G series printers are another example of tank-based systems designed to offer high-yield printing with refillable ink tanks. This approach aims to minimize waste and promote a more sustainable printing option.
  1. Epson EcoTank Printers: The EcoTank series is known for its cartridge-free printing solution, drastically reducing waste from disposable ink cartridges. These printers use large ink reservoirs that can be refilled, cutting down on plastic waste and pollution.

It’s important for libraries (and consumers) looking to purchase eco-friendly printers to consider not just the printer’s energy consumption and waste production but also the company’s commitment to sustainability, including manufacturing practices and recycling programs. Checking for certifications such as ENERGY STAR, EPEAT, or Blue Angel can also guide in identifying printers that meet stringent environmental standards. Remember, the most eco-friendly choice often depends on your specific printing needs and how the printer’s features align with those needs, alongside its environmental impact.

The Role of HVAC Systems: A Breath of Fresh Air

HVAC systems or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning units are the lungs of any building—libraries included. They play a very important role in cycling fresh air in and pushing stale air out. An effective HVAC can significantly mitigate the impact of pollutants from printing by ensuring constant air exchange and filtration. In other words, it’s not just about controlling the temperature but about purifying the air we breathe.

So, what can we take away from all this? First off, the choices libraries make regarding their printing technology matter more than we might think. It’s not just about cost or efficiency but also about health. Secondly, HVAC systems play a crucial, yet often overlooked, role in ensuring that our library environments remain healthy and safe. By focusing on these details, libraries can uphold their status as centers of knowledge and culture without compromising the well-being of their visitors. It’s important to remember that the most significant elements in maintaining a welcoming space can be those we hardly notice, such as the quality of air we all share and breathe.

We will be back with another interesting article from the library world soon!

Want more insights from libraries across the world?

Subscribe to our blog to receive new library insights directly to your e-mail.

Nina Grant

Nina is a passionate writer and editor who likes to cover a variety of topics.

Recent posts

205, 2024

Spectacular Libraries In Film

In this week's Princh Library Blog, guest writer Nina Grant observes how libraries are presented in the pop culture, and more specifically, [...]