Kingston Library’s Climate Smart Pledge

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 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. 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.

“2010 County Sustainability Strategies”

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!

Public Libraries & Local Governments

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

Go Green @your library in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is doing Go Green @your library as their Summer Reading Program theme this year! “Reading Helps Grow Big Ideas” is their tag line. Teen theme: tnk grEn.

Some of the programs that caught my eye:

Looks like the Memorial Hall Library (Andover, MA) is extending the theme into the Fall, they’ve got some great programs lined up:

  • Greener Living Fair
  • Mercury Thermometer Exchange
  • Community Shredding event
  • Green Transportation program with featured speaker John F. Paul, AAA’s Car Doctor
  • “Climate Change in New England” Led by Tina Woolston, Project Manager for Sustainability at Earthwatch Institute.
  • “How to Live a Greener Lifestyle” presented by Dan Ruben, Executive Director of Boston Green Tourism

This line up gets you thinking – who in your community could come and do a presentation at your library? You don’t have to live near a major metropolitan area to find experts in the fields of conservation, energy efficiency, natural habitats, recycling, eating local… Most speakers in these fields are looking for opportunities to spread the word – invite them in!

Energy Star Program: Flaws & The Future

As mentioned in a previous post, an attendee at one of my workshops asked about flaws reported in the Energy Star program. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) played “secret shopper,” or in this case secret manufacturer, and tried to get some crazy products certified by the Energy Start program – gas powered alarm clock anyone? Of 20 fictitious products 15 were certified which was a clear sign the program is unreliable. Their report was released in March and was widely covered in the press.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DoE) announced in mid-April, 2010 that they were enacting “sweeping changes” to safeguard the program and restore credibility:
  • Manufacturers wishing to qualify their products as Energy Star must submit complete lab reports and results for review and approval by EPA prior to labeling;
  • Test results must be from an EPA/DoE approved and accredited lab.
  • Lab testing will now be required for all 60 product categories, previously they were only required for certain categories like windows, doors, skylights and compact fluorescent lighting.
  • The EPA will no longer rely on an automated approval process.
  • The DOE conducted off-the-shelf product testing for some of the most common household appliances and a recent Inspector General audit found that 98% of products tested fully complied with Energy Star requirements.

While these changes were necessary and their delay in being enacted could be blamed on the explosive growth of the program there now is a haze of doubt surrounding the once comforting light blue Energy Star label we all have learned to look for. Another consideration is that there is additional cost for manufacturers to have their products certified due to the required lab results, adding to the oft-heard complaint that it costs more to be green/innovate green.

My take on the Energy Star program is that it is better than nothing. Consumers are awash in products claiming to be energy efficient and the Energy Star program is one of few tools available to help cut through the chatter to what really pays off. I say we not dismiss Energy Star but give it the chance it deserves to redeem itself in the wake of the GAO findings.