On Sunday, June 28th, 2015 at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference in San Francisco (CA) the governing body of ALA, Council, overwhelmingly passed the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries*.
Based on a similar resolution passed by the New York Library Association, members of the ALA Sustainable Roundtable (SustainRT) took the resolution to a new level to present nationally at the June 4th ALA Virtual Membership Meeting. This was the first resolution successfully passed in this venue with over 300 members voting yes to move the resolution before Council at the 2015 Annual Conference.
The passage of the resolution is an important moment in ALA history. It is the declaration of a professional association to make a concerted effort in practice and policy to consider the implications and messages of the choices we make – both nationally and locally.
I can’t wait to see what happens next!
*Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries
Whereas our communities are faced with economic, environmental and societal changes that are of great concern to our quality of life;
Whereas libraries are uniquely positioned and essential to build the capacity of the communities they serve to become sustainable, resilient and regenerative;
Whereas library leaders, and those who inspire future library leaders, have a mandate to ensure future access to economical library services;
Whereas libraries that demonstrate good stewardship of the resources entrusted to them can build community support that leads to sustainable funding;
Whereas the people who work in our libraries and those who access services in our facilities deserve a healthy environment in which to do so;
Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that: “Human influence on the climate system is clear… Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems”1;
Whereas the American Library Association has acknowledged in its 2015 Strategic Plan that “Libraries are widely recognized as key players in economic development, in building strong and vibrant communities, and in sustaining a strong democracy” and launched the ALA Center for Civic Life (CCL) in 2010 in conjunction with the Kettering Foundation to promote community engagement and foster public deliberation through libraries; and
Whereas libraries that demonstrate leadership in making sustainable decisions that positively address climate change, respect and use natural resources, and create healthy indoor and outdoor environments will stabilize and reduce their long-term energy costs, help build more sustainable communities, and thereby increase community support for the library; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that the American Library Association (ALA) on behalf of its members:
- recognizes the important and unique role libraries play in wider community conversations about resiliency, climate change, and a sustainable future and begins a new era of thinking sustainably in order to consider the economic, environmental and socially equitable viability of choices made on behalf of the association;
- enthusiastically encourages activities by itself, its membership, library schools and state associations to be proactive in their application of sustainable thinking in the areas of their facilities, operations, policy, technology, programming, partnerships and library school curricula; and
- directs the ALA Executive Director to pursue sustainable choices when planning conferences and meetings and to actively promote best practices of sustainability through ALA publications, research and educational opportunities to reach our shared goal of vital, visible and viable libraries for the future.