Earth Day 2012

I know Earth Day happens every year yet every year I forget to spread the word until it is virtually too late for libraries to plan events and get the word out (in 2010 I posted the day before Earth Day and I’m pretty sure 2011′s post was after Earth day…) Well not this year!

Earth Day is an annual event held to raise awareness and promote action. There are literally thousands of events held world wide to exemplify the commitment communities, cities and countries have to making the earth healthier.

In some communities libraries not only participate in Earth Day events and activities but lead them as well.

Last year I picked up on the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s Green Fair: “get your green on!” Love it.

TSCPL  brought 20 community organizations together, they challenged the community to come up with 150 Green Ideas, the first 200 attendees at the fair received a free lilac bush, there were demonstrations by master gardeners and energy conservationists, a soil tunnel, gigantic wind generator propeller, live music, eo-crafts for the kids, and animals – including the humane society who brought pets for adoption. (I don’t even know what a soil tunnel is! I must learn more!)

The library provided a bit of reader/watcher advisory as well (GREAT list of books and movies to promote at your library as well!)

The library published a “Green Report Card” on itself prior to the event to show they had a serious commitment to the issues: “Does the library practice what we preach – I mean aside from being Topeka’s No. 1 book recycler?”

This wasn’t just an Earth Day celebration. It was an expression of the library’s role in the community as educator, collaborator, partner and leader.

Now while the TSCPL event may sound a bit bigger than you were thinking, no worries. There is a whole spectrum of ideas out there from small to large to choose from, here are just a few.

  • Check around the community to see what other organizations, agencies or government entities are thinking about for an Earth Day celebration. Don’t assume no one else is thinking about this! Joining forces will have a bigger impact and attract an larger audience.
  • Displays in the library could include books and movies on a variety of subjects: gardening, energy conservation, passive design, solar, sustainable food production: caning, pickling, fermentation, enjoying the outdoors, land conservancy, water conservancy, edible flowers, recycling, reusing, reducing…
  • Programs throughout April could carry a “green theme” – at story time, adult book discussions, teen advisory group, etc. in addition to inviting in speakers who specialize in “green” areas.
  • Sponsor a recycling drive for electronics
  • Challenge your staff to find ways to reduce electricity, water and paper goods consumption in the library.
  • Sponsor or participate in a community “clean up” event in a local park, along a highway or waterway.
  • Plant some trees
  • Hungry for more ideas? Check out my post from 2010, 40 Ideas for the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Pledge your activities, encourage your patrons to do the same and advertise your commitment to The Earth Day Network’s “billion acts of green” through the library!

Earth Day 2012 is on Sunday, April 22. But feel free to celebrate for the whole month of April or year round!

 

Think Spring

Here in the Northeast the gardening buzz is starting to pick up. I can actually see daffodil sprouts near one of our basement windows. It looks odd next to the 12 inches of snow and ice still piled up on most of the lawn.

I just caught wind of a library out in Kansas doing a community wide Green Fair and it made me start to think of all the programming libraries can be planning right now to ride the wave of people’s joy over the promise of spring.

Programming is a centerpiece of marketing. At MHLS we’ve developed targeted marketing tools over the years through our Building Your Base projects and programming to reach a specific audience and targeted programming has been one of the most effective. Marketing yourself as the hub of “green” can draw in new audiences and build your support in the community – and that makes good “sustainable sense.”

Here’s a list of spring-ish themed programming ideas:

  • Spring Cleaning
    • Reduce & Reuse @your library: a program to introduce all you have to offer in your collection (books, movies, music and magazines) and through your web site (downloadable content, magazines, newspapers) that can help people buy and store less.
    • Natural Cleaning Products
    • Recycling Showcase: Invite your county’s Solid Waste Department to come in and talk about how to get rid of household “stuff,” e-waste, yard waste and more without dumping it in a landfill.
    • What to do with…. (how to dispose properly of ewaste, household chemicals, batteries…)
  • Gardening
    • Rainwater Catchment
    • Preparing the Garden
    • Edible Flowers
    • Low-Maintenance Gardens
    • Community Garden (@the library?)
    • Landscape Design
    • Hanging Gardens
    • Container Gardens
    • Learn from a Master Gardener
    • Garden Software
    • Youth Garden Grants Program [National Gardening Association]
  • Food
    • Eating Local & In Season
    • Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
    • Growing Your Own
    • Canning
  • Home Maintenance/Improvement
    • Natural Lawn Care (mulching, killing weeds without polluting your local ecosystem, non-gas powered lawnmowers…)
    • Less Toxic Choices for Maintaining Your Home (low-VOC products – paint, sealants, caulk)
    • Is Solar Right for your Home?
    • Wind Power Generation
    • Tool Lending Library
  • Programs for Kids – childrens’ services staff are some of the most creative people around! Challenge them to come up with programs that instill a love and wonder for nature, environmentally friendly crafts, “save the planet” education
  • Movie Night:
    • Blue Vinyl
    • Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
    • Erin Brockovich
    • FernGully: The Last Rainforest
    • Hoot
    • No Impact Man
    • The End of Suburbia
    • The Warriors of Qiugang
    • The Yes Men Fix The World
    • Wall-E
    • Winged Migration

Got more ideas? Send them my way either in the comments below or via email. I’ll create a master list of green programming ideas and share them!

 

Crandall Public Library Folklife Center

I recently visited the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the facility from their director, Christine McDonald. The greatly expanded library was LEED certified in early 2010 and I was looking to learn more about their building as it is the only LEED library project in NY, that I’m aware of, that included a renovation to a historic structure as well as a newly constructed addition.

The library boasts a daylight harvesting system (that works!), curtain walls, low-VOC paints, carpets and finishes, and a white roof but what really caught my eye was their Folklife Center.

Crandall’s Center for Folklife, History & Cultural Programs is housed in the basement but is immediately accessible down a lovely staircase visible from the main entrance. The Center offers:

  • General Tours
  • Archival Treasure Hunts
  • Guess What I Collect
  • Folk Artist Residencies
  • Tape Recorded Interviews
  • Photograph Your World
  • Book Boxes
  • Women’s History
  • Essay Contest
  • Genealogy Workshops

What I really like about this program area in a public library is the tie in to the commitment this library has made to its community to be a sustainable organization. The idea that the library has devoted so much space to the preservation and continuing education about a way of life, a way of life that celebrates nature and crafts in the Adirondacks, is a strong message of valuing the natural world that dovetails so nicely with the library’s LEED building.

Just as Louise Schaper had done at Fayettville, continuing their commitment to a sustainable facility into their day-to-day operations, Crandall has created a sustainability thread into services and programs. This reinforces the whole idea of sustainability or the “capacity to endure,” which really encourages the public to consider what came before them and what will be left for future generations.

Toy Recalls

TheDailyGreen does a nice job of promoting the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s toy recalls. I point this out because I routinely shudder at some of the items libraries purchase as Summer Reading Program “incentives.” Libraries seek items for kids to encourage reading over the summer and end up buying mass quantities of junk (IMHO). My first tip is to avoid buying such crap but if you do, be aware of this site so you can alert parents of your SRP kids should something you’ve purchased end up on the CPSC list…

Go Green Cheer (includes directive for a “rabid frenzy”!)

As I poked around library web sites in MA to find out what they were doing in conjunction with their Summer Reading Program theme of “Go Green” I came across this gem – the “Go Green @your library Skit” which includes a number of “cheers” that I would pay good money to see done in my libraries!

Favorite line from the script? “(Continue for as long as it takes to whip students into a rabid frenzy of excitement. Teachers will love you for this. Conclude with lots of cheering and jumping around)”

Here’s a teaser:

Encore Bonus Cheer:
Lib 1: Global warming got you down?
Lib 2: Go to the library in your town
Lib 1: Soon there won’t be any school.
Lib 2: But books will always keep you cool.
Lib 1: Recycle a can or plant a flower
Lib 2: Knowledge is a sustainable power!
In Unison: Reduce Reuse Recycle and READ!!!

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!

Green Music Group Challenge

This could be a cool program idea, particularly with teens: http://challenge.greenmusicgroup.org/

Current challenge deadline is coming up fast, July 30, but it looks like there are more challenges to come!

Challenge #8 just asks you to film yourself and your friends outside, not to too tough, particularly for those smart libraries that invested in a Flip Mino.