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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

Sustainability Profile: Tom Lingner

Tom Linger  

Imaging Technician Tom Lingner with his bike outside Widener Library.


March 10, 2011 – When Tom Lingner took a job as an Imaging Technician in HCL Preservation and Imaging Services in 2008, he was excited by the prospect of working with one-of-a-kind library collections in a cutting-edge imaging lab. He was also excited about the commute.

After years of working as a freelance photographer – a job that required a car so he could transport photographic equipment to location shoots throughout New England – working at Harvard meant Lingner could commute by bike or on foot from his home in Belmont – and for the last two-plus years he’s done just that.

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“For the most part, I either walk or bike to work,” said Lingner, whose daily commute from Belmont covers just over four miles. “On days when I can’t, I’ll ride the bus – I haven’t driven to work in a long, long time.”

Lingner’s commitment to sustainable practices isn’t limited to his commute. At work, he has served as a leader in the effort to obtain Green Office certification for Imaging Services, and has encouraged Harvard to offer a financial incentive to bicycle commuters. Under 2008 Bicycle Commuter Act, he said, employers may reimburse employees – tax free – for "reasonable" expenses related to their bike commute, including equipment purchases, bike purchases and repairs.

“Harvard has a large community of bicycle commuters,” Lingner said. “There are four or five people who ride almost every day in Imaging Services. The bike racks behind Widener are usually full – some of it is students, but a lot of it is commuters, so it seems as if there would be a good deal of interest in a benefit like this.”

That commitment to going green even extends beyond the work day. At home, Lingner and his wife compost, garden, and use solar energy to power their mobile devices. The couple also owns a hybrid car, but Lingner so rarely drives he doesn’t even carry car keys.

Lingner has also collaborated with a librarian at Schlesinger Library to develop a pair of macros – small, end-user-created programs that reproduce a series of keystrokes or mouse clicks – aimed at making it easier for staff to put their computers in standby mode when they leave their desks.

The idea for a “green” macro came to Lingner last year after he noticed PC users in Imaging Services going through several steps to put their computers in standby mode. He brought the idea to a colleague, who designed two macros to simplify the process. One uses a keyboard shortcut – Control-G, for green, while the other is an icon that can be placed on the computer desktop. Both put the computer instantly in standby mode.

After encouraging colleagues in Imaging Services to use the macros, Lingner is sharing his work with the wider Harvard community. He recently offered the macros to Green Team leaders throughout Harvard.

“I know of a number of people who are using them in Imaging Services,” he said. “Hopefully, someone else at Harvard will find them useful. Harvard has made tremendous progress in supporting sustainable practices; this is just one small way I hope to help.”

Other HCL staffers who have been recognized for their green efforts include: Anna Anctil, Paul Bellenoit, Thomas Bahr and Humberto Oliveira.