The “Es” of Sustainable Libraries

Random-ish thought: Environmental sustainability is defined by “the three Es,” in order for something to be truly sustainable it must address all three: environment, economics, and social equity. [Read more about this definition of sustainability here.]

Here are three possible Es for a Sustainable Library:

A place where patrons are:

  • Empowered
  • Engaged
  • Energized

Sustainable Thinking in 2012

2012 has me broadening the scope of my thinking when it comes to how I define a  Sustainable Library. When I was writing the LJ article on Integrated Building Design last year I kept thinking: “why don’t we apply this type of thinking throughout our organizations?”


If we take the definition of sustainability as “the capacity to endure” and thread that throughout our organizations, not just our facilities – the policies we write, the customer service expectations we have of our staff, the technology we deploy, the messages we send, all can contribute to having a sustainable library.

Sustainable Thinking: Passageways to Better Buildings, Budgets & Beyond

2012 ALA Conference in Anaheim, CAThe countdown to the 2012 American Library Association Conference in Anaheim, CA has begun!

On the morning of Monday, June 25th I will be presenting with Jeffrey Scherer, architect extraordinaire, and Susan Benton, CEO of the Urban Libraries Council. Our topic: Sustainable Thinking: Passageways to Better Buildings, Budgets & Beyond.

In spirit, Louise Schaper will also be with us. She is an original member of our panel that will not be able to make it out to California but she is a driving force behind the content that will be presented.

We will be talking about the importance of thinking sustainably throughout your organization, not just when it comes to your facility.

This morning I spent some time working on the presentation. I’ll be handling Louise’s content as well as my own so wanted to get more familiar with her slides. Very struck by how well Louise can articulate the importance of “walking the walk” not just “talking the talk.” She provides excellent examples of how to infuse the ideals of sustainability throughout the culture of the library as an organization that I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk about at ALA this year!

As always, I am looking forward to connecting in-person with so many of you I get to talk with online through this web site, the Sustainable Libraries Facebook page and the Sustainable Librarians Group on LinkedIn. Please come up and introduce yourself! The more of us who know each other the more we can accomplish for the profession!

Sustainable Libraries on Pinterest

In the never ending quest to keep up online I checked out Pinterest and pretty quickly got sucked in.

It completely speaks to my librarian brain to start saving and classifying all the great graphics and photos I come across online!

I’ve got a couple of boards going that I thought would be of interest to fans of Sustainable Libraries:


Solar FTW

Living Walls

and of course… Trees

Check it out and follow my boards so we can find new ways to waste time together! ;-)


Library as Partner in Creating Curriculum for Sustainability

For Academic Libraries & Information Studies Schools, on behalf of Bonnie J. Smith, University of Florida:

Library as Partner in Creating Curriculum for Sustainability

“Colleagues, Please accept this invitation to participate in the Library as Partner in Creating Curriculum for Sustainability survey. This survey explores the level of engagement of academic libraries and information studies schools in the emerging focus of educating for sustainability on university and college campuses across North America. The expected benefits associated with your involvement include creating a better understanding of the role of libraries in educating for sustainability and may also reveal some opportunities for further research. We anticipate the survey will take 10-20 minutes to complete. There are no foreseeable risks associated with this survey. The confidentiality of your responses will be protected. Please share this survey with colleagues in academic libraries and LIS schools. All responses are welcome and valuable. The survey closes on May 2, 2012. Click here to take the survey. With much appreciation, Bonnie J. Smith – University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries Maria A. Jankowska – UCLA, Charles E. Young Research Library Marianne A. Buehler – University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries”

Happy Earth Day 2012!

Easy Activism:

  • Six Words for the Planet: SMITH Magazine and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency present “Six Words for the Planet.” Share your six words to celebrate the environment, share your concerns, and talk about the planet. EPA will feature some submissions on, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And your Six Words for the Planet will be considered for a future book, calendar and more.
  • Picnic for the Planet: Picnic for the Planet is a celebration of the planet we live on, the food it provides and the people we share it with. In short it, the planet does a lot for us, we should take it out for lunch. On and around Earth Day 2012 (April 22), people all around the world will be stepping outside and heading to their favorite outdoor spot to enjoy good food in the company of great people.
  • Michael, Michael, Go Recycle! Fun online game for kids (and adults!) Find more consciousness awareness raising games here.
  • Pick 5 for the Environment [EPA]: Environmental action means taking the simple steps in the different places where we all live. By choosing five or more of these ideas and sharing your own, you are joining thousands of others who are doing the same! Make your actions count today!
  • Celebrate Earth Day in Super High Resolution [WIRED Magazine]



Shipping Containers are Clever

Buildings made out of shipping containers? Yep. I’m in love with this idea, here are two library examples:

BiebBus (via GreenDiary):

BiebBus is a mobile library that has been specifically built to squeeze in narrow streets and to attract children and consequently inculcate the value of reading in them.

BiebBus is actually a shipping container that can pop-up and create two levels in the library. The lower level houses all the books and even though it looks like a tight fit, 20 people can stand around the 100 meter book shelf that is home to over 7000 books. The upper level is where children can sit, and read the books. To make it fun, the floor is made of glass – not just simple glass, but a a sort of magnifying glass which makes the kid look bigger. There are huge windows on the upper level so that there is enough natural light and the inquisitive ones can look outside. Cool lights and bean-bags complete the “reading-space”. 35-40 children can sit comfortably and lost themselves in the written word.”

The Contertainer (via Inhabitat):

“The Contertainer is a poly-clinic and public library designed by Indonesian firm, dpavilion architects, that repurposes these adventurous vessels to house books, which serve as “windows” to the world at large. The name for the health clinic and public libraryis an amalgam of two words: container and entertainer, which reflects its goal of providing a better quality of living for those who have little money.”