Libraries as Community Sustainability Leaders

This post originally appeared on the ILA Connector blog.

My previous posts focused on ways to integrate sustainability into library operations. In this post, I’ll show you how to use your library’s sustainability efforts not only to teach the public about green practices, but also inspire them to begin using similar techniques at home, at work, and in the community.

As you put together your library’s sustainability plan, work with your staff and your green team to identify opportunities to not only publicize your efforts, but also demonstrate how your patrons can do similar things in their homes or businesses.

  • Add a sustainability page to your web site to not only highlight your library’s efforts but also to connect people with local sustainability resources.
  • Do displays of practical books and DVDs on sustainability-related topics like living simply, building green homes, native plants, or residential renewable energy systems.
  • Incorporate sustainability tips and information about the library’s green activities into your digital displays.
  • Investigate the Library of Things movement. Start lending tools, kitchen equipment, or science kits, toys, and games. 
  • Use your library’s programs to draw attention to environmental issues and sustainable practices. Your options are only limited by the creativity of your programming team. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
    • Host a sustainability film series and have community conversations about each film.
    • Work with local groups to bring in speakers to address local environmental issues or sustainable practices.
    • Develop a speaker series targeted at helping local businesses and organizations or homeowners improve their environmental practices.
    • Partner with a Master Gardener or your county Extension office to do a program on planting a rain garden, using rain barrels, landscaping with native plants, composting, or organic gardening.
    • Work with with your community’s arts organization to host a local artisan’s festival.
    • Display local art made from salvaged materials in the library.
    • Partner with other community groups to host a community tag/yard sale.
    • Do crafting programs that focus on using found or salvaged objects.

If you’re planning a major remodel or a new building project, use the opportunity to incorporate sustainability into every part of the design and building process. You can then use your building project to show your public the effectiveness of green technologies.

If you’re interested in learning more about sustainability in libraries beyond what I’ve written in this series of posts, please reach out. I’ll be happy to connect you with speakers or brainstorm ways that you can make sustainability an integral part of your library and community culture.

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