Monday, November 24, 2008

Greening the library

Library Journal had a provocative article in the Nov. 1 issue, "Global warming's library challenge", calling for immediate plans and actions. Our library has several times partnered with a local sustainability group to offer programs and discussions. But talk and programs are not enough. We've made substantial strides to recycle and conserve energy, but that's not enough.

We need to be intentional; at the very least, an awareness of sustainability concerns should inform our purchasing and planning. Writing in the September issue of Shambhala Sun, Thich Nhat Hanh noted:
If we continue to live as we have been living, consuming without a thought to the future, destroying our forests and emitting greenhouse gases, then devastating climate change is inevitable. ...

The Chinese, the Indians, and the Vietnamese are still dreaming the “American dream,” as if that dream were the ultimate goal of mankind—everyone has to have a car of their own, a bank account, a cell phone, a television set. In twenty-five years the population of China will be 1.5 billion people, and if each of them wants to drive their own private car, China will need 99 million barrels of oil every day. But world production today is only 84 million barrels per day, so the American dream is not possible for the Chinese, nor the Indians or the Vietnamese. The American dream is no longer possible for the Americans. We cannot continue to live like this. It is not a sustainable economy.
Potential areas for "green library" discussion, planning and action:
  • energy use in current operations
  • building & construction plans
  • library supplies & products used
  • service implications
  • disaster planning
  • cost savings
  • program planning
  • recycling
  • collection development
All kinds of libraries need to step up and engage the issues; there are many resources listed in the LJ article. Maybe we're not going to put solar panels and wind turbines on our roof, but we still need to get staff at our library talking and working.


Anonymous said...

I really am interested in a discussion on this! I find a lot of people talk about wanting to build multi-million dollar green library without taking into account that there are a lot of things we can do today to make our library greener. Many of the changes are small and they take people being willing to change behavior, but they aren't more difficult - just different - and after a while they become habit.

Kenley Neufeld said...

Great beginnings of a conversation. Count me in. We have not had enough on our library but one of librarians is participating in a One World Fellow program on campus to infuse sustainability into the curriculum.

Terry Dawson said...

A good local information resource is the ECOS-Fox Valley blog, and a good source for library ideas is the Going Green @ Your Library blog.

I think a challenge for our library is to get a meaningful conversation going, involving staff who care and can help us identify activities and changes. We may be thinking about a new building, but we're here for years; we need to work with what we've got, as well as look at items other than the facility.