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Scarborough Library receives $100K EBSCO grant for solar panels

Rachel Hally, coordinator of collections at Scarborough Library, and Dr. Jeff Groff, chair of the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences

The Scarborough Library received a $100,000 grant from EBSCO Information Services of Ipswich, Massachusetts, for the installation of about 170 solar panels on the library’s roof that will generate at least 60 kilowatts of power.

“These panels will be put on a racking system that is slightly tilted to catch more of the sun’s energy,” said Dr. Jeff Groff, chair of the Institute of Environmental and Physical Sciences, who along with Rachel Hally, library coordinator of collections, wrote the grant.

“This will produce, in money terms, thousands of dollars of free electricity every year,” Groff said. “It’s an investment that’s going to grow over time because energy costs go up every year, and the panels will be up there on the roof largely maintenance free for decades contributing to energy production here on campus.”

Hally, who accepted the grant award at the American Library Association annual meeting in New Orleans on June 23, said the library uses a lot of energy.

“Because of the size of the building, because of how much IT equipment we have, and because the heating and cooling system has to be really precise to protect our resources, we tend to have more need in terms of HVAC than some other buildings on campus,” Hally said.

The solar panels will be tied into the library’s electric system, and a special meter will monitor how much electricity they generate. That amount will be deducted from the building’s electric bill. Groff estimates over 20 years the panels will save more than $120,000. If energy prices go up, he said, the savings will be more.

The Scarborough Library is one of three libraries receiving solar grants this year from EBSCO, which is a provider of online research content. EBSCO Information Services founder and CEO Tim Collins said the grants are a great way for the company to make an impact on the environment.

“The EBSCO Solar Grants not only help libraries but are part of a larger effort to reduce our collective environmental footprint and demonstrate to local communities the benefits of environmental responsibility,” Collins said.

Groff said the solar array will be accessible to students, who will be able to study it and learn about the technology and the energy it produces. Hally hopes it serves as an inspiration for the community as well.

“Since Shepherd is such an integrated part of town, I’m hoping that residents and community members will be interested in taking a look at and learning more about our installation,” Hally said. “It would be amazing if we saw people taking more of an interest in residential installations after seeing our library installation. It’s just an exciting catalyst for all sorts of environmental sustainability initiatives.”