Why do we still need libraries in the age of digital, real-time information? AnyThink’s Pam Sandlian Smith shows how she works to use the library as a hub for community-based knowledge creation and discourse.
Super excited that my article about Integrated Building Design (IBD), “A Whole Systems Approach: Integrated Building Design,” is in the current issue of Library Journal!!
Rebecca T. Miller, Executive Editor @LJ, had asked me to write this article last year after the LJ Design Institute in South Carolina. I had insisted on asking the panels I moderated about IBD and got a mixed bag of responses from panelists but Rebecca was interested in hearing more.
Writing the article gave me an excellent excuse to talk to some amazing people:
-Victor Canseco, LEED AP and Principal at Sandpebble Builders, Inc. from Southampton, NY: Victor is passionate in an old school way about integrated building design. Speaking with a builder was fantastic as I usually don’t get face time with that side of a project. He really drove home how feasible IBD is and how smart it is for publicly funded projects. Plus I think he’s a pretty fabulous human being as well so there’s that…looking forward to presenting with Victor and his colleagues at the 2011 New York Library Association Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY!
-Amanda Aspenson, LEED AP and Designer with Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. out of Minneapolis, MN let me talk her ear off! We totally geeked out about IBD and I so appreciated her energy and enthusiasm around the topic. Amanda worked on the IPD Case Studies document cited in the article which I think is inspiring and really gives one the sense that IBD is doable for libraries of all shapes and sizes. Big thank you to Mr. Jeffrey Scherer, founding principal at MSR for connecting me with Amanda! *(P.S. Looking forward to presenting with Jeffrey at the PLA & ALA Conferences in 2012!! More on that soon!)
-Rick McCarthy, a principal architect with PSA-Dewberry, based in Elgin, IL, is not only a library architect but a library trustee which brings a really special angle to the conversation of stakeholder intersections. Rick’s long standing support of sustainably designed buildings is another stroke of luck for me in writing this article.
-David Moore, senior project architect at McMillan Pazdan Smith, based in Greenville, SC was the first person I interviewed and probably one of the most pragmatic people I’ve met. His real world wrangling of library projects with a host of complications and fairly fantastic outcomes was very useful to draw on as I got started writing the article.
I’m relieved the article is finally out there. I can’t wait to hear the feedback. I’m hoping a few brave souls out there give IBD a try for their projects. If there is anyone out there who wants to talk more about this just let me know, I’m very intrigued by the potential of IBD (if you haven’t already picked up on that…) and excited to see some libraries give it a go!
As my 100th post I thought I’d share something that makes me smile every time I think about it.
Planning to change for the better is a wonderful thing for an organization. A thoughtful progression towards a common goal happens only with leadership and planning.
I am very please to present the Kingston Library’s Climate Smart Pledge to you.
While only peripherally involved in its creation as a consultant, I have watched this library strive to be the best it can be for its community for years. The library board took note when their city signed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Community Pledge. They saw an opportunity to pursue their own internal goals while supporting their local government’s adoption of similar goals.
A committee of the board took the DEC’s pledge and used it as a template for their own pledge. Creating a document that became board approved, serving as guidance for the library’s administration and future boards to abide by.
The library’s pledge addresses operations, facility issues and programs and includes an acknowledgement that adaptive change must be a component to allow for flexibility in assessing and implementing cost effective options.
What I love so much about this library is that they are already actively implementing projects that show they are serious. They recently secured a New York State Construction Aid grant to re-do their parking lot to mitigate storm water run-off, a significant community-wide identified issue given the urban landscape the library is located in.
A sustainable library is one that understands community priorities and reflects them throughout their organization – from governance, to collection development and programming to facility priorities. Bravo to the Kingston Library and its board and staff. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
I haven’t posted in awhile, not by choice. In January I got a new boss. Shortly after that 30% of my coworkers were laid off. Shortly after that I made it my mission to fight the heck out of the New York State Governor’s proposed 10% cut to library aid.
Library Systems in NYS have been kicked around for the past 15 years, it’s been a lot worse since the economic downturn. It’s hard to believe that the NYS budget has doubled since 1998 but library aid went down by 25%. We’ve been cut five times in just the last two years.
I’m a fan of common sense. I’m a fan of people who take personal responsibility for themselves. It is not common sense to cut libraries during economic hard times because libraries are where people who take responsibility for themselves and their families go to make it through.
Using the library’s computers and Internet connection is a lifeline for job seekers. Prepping kids for school when your family can’t afford to send them to pre-school increases a child’s earning potential twenty years later. Having the opportunity to relax with a book or a movie after working in a place that is under constant threat of lay offs should not be reserved for those that can purchase said movie from Amazon.
The same reason I started SustainableLibraries.org is why I believe in public libraries – we all have to work together to make a difference. It may sound hokey or naive but I really do believe that.
I believe in the library directors, staff, trustees and Friends Groups that I work with in the Mid-Hudson Library System because I see them change lives of people in their community for the better. Whether it be by providing great customer service, caring reference assistance, good collections, positive community events that bring neighbors together, helpful programs for people of all ages to do everything from get people’s taxes filed correctly to de-stressing with a yoga class.
SustainableLibraries.org was started as an extension of my day job where I help libraries find sustainable funding. I strongly believe that a very smart part of a truly sustainable funding strategy is a sustainable building, a focus on reduced operating costs through smart choices in facility construction, operations and programs.
Last year I found myself groaning every time someone whipped out the phrase “now more than ever” but I’m usin’ it this morning – libraries need to focus on sustainability – on all fronts – NOW MORE THAN EVER.
Our funding is decreasing, politicians are scrutinizing, users are relying on us. We have to make smart choices that sustain us for the long haul locally and globally.
A fact I used on Library Advocacy Day on Tuesday in our State’s capitol was that while state funding is decreasing at a record rate, local funding is holding firm. Local tax payers are voting to tax themselves for library services in their communities – statewide 97% of library budget votes passed in 2010. Local people get it, now we just have to help legislators hear from their constituents that they are supposed to represent up in Albany.
One thing I’ve learned is that legislators value “going green” right now. Regardless of political affiliation legislators have voted for more money to go to the energy research and development authority, green job creation and sustainable construction money than just about anything else.
We’ve got to get in on that.
Tie sustainable funding and “going green” together, trust me, it will pay off for you in one way or another.
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like I go to a lot of meetings, a lot of workshops and a fair number of conferences. I was struck this year by the obviousness of those facilities and organizations that have made an effort to make more sustainable facility and operational choices in the context of the “meeting experience.”
- paper handouts vs. online referrals to handouts
- the quality of the plates, cups, forks/spoons/knives, napkins provided
- individual plastic water bottles
- quality or (heavenly absence of) “giveaways” – bags, notepads, pens
- recycling for cans and bottles
- snack choices
While it may seem minor in some cases all of these things contribute to a meeting/workshop/conference experience. Here’s how my mind was working this year, I forgot my stainless steel water bottle at an event recently and had to break down and buy a bottle of water. I had to carry it around for hours, literally, until I found a recycling receptacle. I was actually distracted by this, my mind was constantly on the look out! This was at a conference with hundreds of people attending, how many of them didn’t hold on to their bottles until they found it? That’s probably hundreds of bottles just thrown in the trash.
I actually had a visceral reaction when I realized I’d have to use a Styrofoam plate at one of our own, catered, events. How to rectify this? I’m suggesting that next year this is part of our contract with the caterer, that plates, napkins and utensils contain recycled content.
As consumers we can enact change. Libraries spend a lot of money in communities, if we start demanding specific sustainable aspects we can change how people do business.
Don’t be complacent, fill out that workshop evaluation form and suggest healthier, more sustainable options. Planning an event? Check out:
Came across this publication from the National Association of Counties (NACo) as I started to think more about the implications of what I read in the Urban Libraries Council’s recently released publication focused on public libraries and local governments.
Highlights from the NACo’s 2010 County Sustainability Strategies publication:
- The most important benefit counties are realizing from sustainability efforts is cost savings.
- “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Generation”, and “Waste Management” are the most common sustainability efforts counties are pursuing.
- Thirty-four percent of the responding counties identified that they have a staff position to coordinate green efforts.
- County sustainability coordinators are spread out across several different county departments, with the highest concentrations in County Administration, Operations, Environmental Protection, and Planning and Development.
- Overwhelmingly, funding is the most significant challenge inhibiting counties from accomplishing all sustainability strategies. The second most cited challenge is staff time.
- If given the opportunity, the majority of respondents would further invest, in order of priority, in (1) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Generation followed by Waste Management; (2) Green Building Construction/Renovation, and Water Conservation/Reuse; and (3) Green Purchasing, Local Food Systems, and Green Economic Development.
- In general, counties in the West and Northeast Regions are pursuing all sustainability strategies with greater intensity than South and Midwest counties.
The word “library” does not appear at all in this report. BIG opportunity here folks!
“This publication is a statement on the significant role of public libraries in achieving local sustainability.”
Last week the Urban Libraries Council released “Partners for the Future: Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable Communities“:
“This report demonstrates how public libraries help local governments achieve sustainability goals in each of the three triple bottom line components* and is intended to both celebrate successes to date and provide a roadmap for partnerships that are built to last.”
This publication is a call to action for public libraries around the country to be talking to their local municipalities about planning for sustainability. It won’t happen without planning. Many municipalities are taking the lead, particularly in urban areas. They may or may not think to include the library in their plans. Make sure your library is “at the table” for these discussions and wholeheartedly buys in, there is nothing to lose and much to gain. This publication gives you the talking points you need to begin to convince municipal leaders that libraries are essential to a sustainability initiative.
Maybe your municipality has not started to plan a sustainable future for your community yet, the library could take the lead or start the discussion!
- Economic Vitality
- Environmental Quality
- Social Equity
Since I started this journey to help libraries green their building and operations to bolster the evidence that they are sustainable it has all seemed so clear to me - if libraries go green it is good. It is good because it demonstrates a commitment to a healthy environment – for the people working and accessing library services in library buildings and for the community (both local and global) at large and it broadens the message that libraries are good stewards of public dollars as greening a building can result in lowering operating costs for the long-term.
However last month I was challenged in this, a director of one of my libraries insinuated I was wasting my time and theirs by pursing this path of helping libraries make more sustainable choices about the facilities. I was a little shocked that it happened to be honest but now that I’ve thought about it more I realize I am less shocked that the person said what they did and more shocked at my inarticulate response.
I realize it is not enough to just believe in this, at any moment I must be ready to justify the brain power, System time and attention spent on helping our libraries in this way. I view this endeavor as an extension of helping our libraries build their base of support in their community which leads to better funded libraries and more good will towards the library.
So I vow to be better spoken about this topic for the sake of my member libraries. I am pursuing a System wide campaign this fall to help libraries make more sustainable choices when it comes to their buildings, operations and programming. I plan do to a better job at helping directors convey to their trustees and staff the value of going green, to help libraries talk to their communities about how going green makes them a better library and their community a better place and the all-around message that sustainable libraries make for a sustainable future – for the library and the local community.
If I take my title at MHLS seriously – Coordinator for Library Growth & Sustainability – I can do no less.
I guess I should thank the person who challenged the wisdom of pursing these options for my libraries, he just strengthened my resolve that I’m on the right path…
Stay tuned for more info on the “Greening Your Library Challenge,” hoping to launch it in October 2010, can’t wait to see what happens…
13 Amazing Facts About Green Roofs: Green roofs and living walls offer many benefits, including cooling buildings, reducing stormwater runoff, providing wildlife habitat, growing food and creating jobs.
“ChargePoint America is a program sponsored by Coulomb Technologies to provide electric vehicle charging infrastructure to nine selected regions in the United States. The is made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the Department of Energy and the objective is to accelerate the development and production of electric vehicles to substantially reduce petroleum consumption, reduce greenhouse gas production, and create jobs.”
9 program regions:
- Bellevue-Redmond, WA
- Sacramento, CA
- San Jose-San Francisco Bay Area
- Los Angeles, CA
- Austin, TX
- Detroit, MI
- New York City, NY
- Washington D.C.
- Orlando, FL