CFL bulb myths

Recently this email was sent around my library that started out like this … ” I turned it on the other day and then smelled smoke after a few minutes. Four inch flames were spewing out of the side of the ballast like a blow torch! I immediately turned off the lights. But I’m sure it would have caused a fire if I was not right there. Imagine if the kids had left the lights on as usual when they were not in the room. ….” As a librarian I know it is important to check your sources so I asked our university Sustainability Coordinator about these emails.  First, the email is false – it’s listed verbatim and debunked on (a great place to go to check out these type of email/urban myths). But he also shared some other information about CFLs:

“If one looks at the lifecycle analysis of CFLs versus incandescents, one sees that incandescents cause more mercury (almost 4X more) to be emitted into the environment over their lives than CFLs.  This is due to the mercury emitted during the electricity-generation process. (check out this Frequently Asked Questions Information on Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) and Mercury pdf  from November 2010 for more information).  This doesn’t address what happens in a discrete (home) environment, however.  CFLs can be finicky – they should definitely not be used with dimmers unless they are SPECIFICALLY LABELED DIMMER-CAPABLE.  I’ve read mixed results about CFLs in can lights – if the temperature around the CFL is too high, it can burn out prematurely.”

And dealing with burned out CFL bulbs, find proper recycling and disposal location(EPA suggestions or search locally pm Earth911).  Home Depot stores offer receptacles for CFLs as often do Lowes. Some campuses now collect them as well.


– Thanks Trey for your advice and expertise!

TED Talks: A Greener Future

TED talks are a great resources for learning yourself or sharing with your students/patrons and even to get a discussion going.  TED ( Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.  They offer a series on A Green Future, a collection of videos talks related to the environmental debate which ” traditionally been characterized as a conflict between economic progress and preservation of the planet. Most TED speakers, however, insist that we can have both — provided we’re smart about it.”  This includes talks like Van Jones: the economic injustice of plastic or  Majora Carter: the Greening of the Ghetto or John Hardy: My Green School Dream.   Check out these and other TED talks and add as a great resource.

Interview with Marianne Buehler – Urban Sustainability Librarian

At the AASHE Conference in October 2010, I literally stumbled upon a librarian who has an unusually cool job as the first official sustainability librarian job that I ever saw posted. Through email, I asked her a few questions I hope my readers will find this interesting – I certainly did.  Enjoy …. and thanks Marianne!


What is your name, official title and workplace?

Marianne A. Buehler, Urban Sustainability Librarian, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

How long have you been working at UNLV?

a little over fourteen months

What persuaded you to apply for this position?

I applied for the Sustainability Librarian position because I have a passion for sustainability in general and to make research available on a global scale in an institutional repository. I have worn many library hats, such as a public library director in Maine, distance/online learning librarian, managing a publishing center, and as a repository administrator at Rochester Institute of Technology. My current position is the most rewarding because it encompasses a broad range of sustainability issues in the Mountain West region and at UNLV.  An institutional repository is sustainable for scholarship and research access. The more we can open the doors to scholarship around the planet, the more opportunities people will have to solve problems and build upon others’ research for the greater good of all. There were also other sustainability job aspects that sounded exciting to be part of-see below.

How was the transition from your previous job to this one?

It was very easy to transition. I find people in the West to be very friendly and open to new ideas and ways of doing things. The sunny and temperate weather has been nice, too.
So tell us what does an urban sustainability librarian do? what defines a “sustainability librarian?”

I am included in UNLV sustainability efforts. I work with the Urban Sustainability Initiative on the UNLV campus as the library representative. We are working on using a campus tool that has a built in report card: Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) reporting software and have also initiated other projects to further the campus greening and partnering/finding solutions facing the Las Vegas metro area. There are other campus collaborations, such as Brookings Mountain West, working with various faculty to create open access journals, and administrators archiving sustainability conferences, and engaging with my library colleagues and their colleges’ scholarship to post in the repository. I also have multidisciplinary collection development responsibilities (great fun!) in addition to books, sustainability government documents, that include collaborations with the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson and Clark County. Students seek me out for their projects and research needs. Currently, I am collaborating with the Digital Projects Librarian and Director of Special Collections on a LYSTA grant related to water issues in the desert. The photographs and related stories are being archived using CONTENTdm and the scholarly print water documents are being archived in the repository.

Do you think there will be more sustainability librarian positions in the future?

I sure hope so! Sustainability is a burgeoning area that is critical to research and to act upon for a safe and healthy future planet environment.

Any suggestions on how other librarians could embed sustainability into their jobs and roles?

That is an excellent question. Every subject area has sustainability issues inherent in it; some faculty are focusing on those issues. Conversations with faculty and students on their broadening sustainability research will make it more of an academic/library priority. Embedding sustainability where appropriate and necessary in LibGuides or other subject guides engender visibility and awareness.

Any other comments?
It is great that you are promoting sustainability in the library world-librarians have a lot to contribute!

Thanks Marianne!!