Quill and Quire

Book culture

« Back to

Transforming Dalhousie University’s outdated books into building materials

When Nova Scotia builder David Cameron heard that Halifax’s Dalhousie University was running out of space to store more than 50,000 outdated journals and books archived in its libraries, he had an idea.

Books contain cellulose, which Cameron says is a natural insulator that could last “forever.” As an experiment, he took 10,000 volumes and built a seven-foot-high, 20-foot-long wall to insulate part the exterior of the Blockhouse School, an abandoned building on the province’s South Shore that is currently being transformed into a model project and research centre for sustainable living. During the winter, the book-lined room maintains a temperature three degrees warmer than adjoining non-insulated rooms.

Cameron tells Halifax weekly The Coast that he has more ideas for recycling books, which could have applications elsewhere, including at nearby Mount Saint Vincent University. The Halifax university expects it may have to cull 100,000 volumes over the next few years.

Watch a video about an exhibition of recycled-book art held at the Blockhouse School: