Local Supports Local

My second column for Library Journal is now available! In this installment we take a look at the concept of “Local Supports Local”:

Local Supports Local  |  Rebekkah Smith Aldrich  |  July 11, 2016  |  Library Journal

One thing I know is true: local supports local.

Empower. Engage. Energize. These three words describe the relationship between a sustainable library and its users. It’s a two-way street: a library can empower patrons to do good things by engaging with them to understand their aspirations. A community can feel the authentic interest a library has in being a part of that community’s conversations, whether by being at the table or convening “the table” to find community-based solutions.

When a library shows support for the goals of those it serves by empowering and energizing patrons through library services, those communities turn around and give empowerment back to their library in the form of goodwill and financial investment. This is a sustainable pattern for the future of libraries.

Think global, library local…” Read the full article here


The Capacity to Endure

My first article for the new Library Journal column, Sustainability with a Capital S is now live! I start at the beginning. Makes sense right? Just taking a basic first step to define sustainability and some of the thinking around how the Triple Bottom Line affects libraries.

The Capacity to Endure  |  Rebekkah Smith Aldrich  |  May 2, 2016  |  Library Journal

Think big—I mean really big—about the future of your library and its capacity to endure. Does it have the support it needs? Can it bounce back after disruption? Do its services and programs bring new and energetic life to the community, school, or campus that it serves?

More important, can your residents and students themselves bounce back from disruption? Is your community filled with new and dynamic life that leads to community-based solutions to what ails it? How is your library contributing to this?

I want you to think about not just your library, not just about those you serve, but about the community we all live in, both locally and globally. That needs to be our focus for a sustainable future for libraries. Without sustainable communities to serve, libraries will become afterthoughts in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Self-actualization through our services will be a significant challenge when residents don’t feel safe or accepted, lack clean drinking water, or face limited economic opportunities.

Defining sustainability

I’ve been fine-tuning the concept of a sustainable library for several years. I’m not talking about greening a building or recycling, though those are attributes of a sustainable library. Sustainability transcends green and is best understood by this triple bottom-line model…” Read the full article here

Sustainability with a Capital S

LJ logoI’m very excited to be writing the brand new column, Sustainability with a Capital S for Library Journal! Every other month they will allow me to pontificate on what Sustainability, using the Triple Bottom Line definition, can mean for libraries – from an operational and outreach perspective.

Weekly “Sustainability Spotlights” for Libraries

SustainabilitySpotlight_logoCheck out the new weekly feature from the New York Library Association’s Sustainability Initiative: Sustainability Spotlights! A great resource to help make the case for sustainability in libraries with real-life examples, along with some actionable info for New York’s libraries!

“The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations.”

As of March 15, 2016 they have posted about:

New Blog from the Sustainability Round Table of the American Library Association!

SustainabilityRoundTableLogoSustainRT now has a blog!  Check it out: http://olos.ala.org/sustainrt/.  If you would like to share how you are promoting sustainability in your library or community, please consider contributing a post for the blog. Submissions for the blog should be between 500-1000 words and will be subject to review prior to posting. Please send submissions to sustainrtblog@gmail.com.

Sustainability Initiative of the New York Library Association

NYLA_Sustainability logo_FINALThe New York Library Association just did two very cool things:

  1. Issued a white paper from their Sustainability Initiative outlining the work of a recent retreat of “co-creators” that are helping to shape the future of what sustainable thinking for libraries in New York looks like and
  2. Officially formed the NYLA Sustainability Initiative Committee

This follows the passage in 2014 of the NYLA Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries, the forerunner of the American Library Association’s Resolution of the same name passed in June 2015, and the 2015 convening of the Sustainability Initiative Retreats, sponsored by an impressive list of leaders throughout New York State:

Can’t wait to see what happens next!

ALA Council Overwhelmingly Passes Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries!

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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. 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.


Calling all librarians: How to get involved with the Sustainability Roundtable of the American Library Association

Four ways you can get more involved with SustainRT:

1) Run for the board! We’ve got an opening for coordinator-elect. Applications are due February 6th. For more information contact Madeleine Charney [mcharney [at] library.umass.edu]

2) Volunteer on the Marketing & Outreach Working Group. Interested? Contact Rebekkah Smith Aldrich [rsmith [at] midhudson.org]

3) Volunteer for our Online Education working group. Interested? Contact Madeleine Charney [mcharney [at] library.umass.edu]

4) Participate at ALA MidWinter! Our board meeting is on Saturday at 1pm @Hilton Chicago | Conference Room 5C or just come hangout with us on Sunday, we’ll meet up at 3pm @Hyatt Regency McCormick | Clark/CC 22C – I hear rumors of ice skating on Sunday!