#4: Visit Your Local Library

The Daily Green shall be forgiven for calling us a “surprising” way to save money, it’s great that they included us in their best tips for “getting more out of life while helping the planet.” We’re #4:

“Instead of buying small mountains of books, CDs, DVDs and even magazines that you barely use, check materials out of your neighborhood library, or relax inside the quiet halls and browse on site. Over time, you can save a nice pile of cash, and you’ll help divert paper and plastics from landfills.”

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!

“Charge It”

The June 7-June 13, 2010 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek had an article called “A New Meaning for the Phrase “Charge It” alerting the business community to the demands electric cars will have for power:

“Two chargers are needed for each car” – one at home and one at work.”

There’s an iPhone app for drivers of electric cars to locate chargers.

People are reporting “range anxiety” – the fear of being stranded with drained batteries.

As President Obama and the car industry march forward with the push for lessening America’s reliance on foreign oil more and more drivers will be looking for a place to “charge it.”

What if public libraries across the country became known for having charging stations? Not a bad marketing idea eh?

If you are lucky enough to be planning a new building, major expansion or just redoing your parking lot consider integrating a charging station into your plans, your community may (eventually) thank you!

May is National Bike Month

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week 2010 from May 17-21 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 21.

Here are some bike rack location tips from the International Bicycle Fund:

  • Visibility: Cyclists should easily spot short-term parking when they arrive from the street.  A highly visible location discourages theft and vandalism. Avoid locations “off on the side”, “around the corner” or in un-supervised parking structures or garages.
  • Access:  The parking area should be convenient to building entrances and street access, but away from normal pedestrian and auto traffic (see below).   Avoid locations that require bicycles to travel over stairs.
  • Security: Surveillance is essential to reduce theft and vandalism.   For security, locate parking within view of passers-by, retail activity, or office windows. Better yet: officially assign building security, parking lot attendant or other personnel to watch for suspicious behavior.
  • Lighting: Bicycle parking areas should be well lit for theft protection, personal security and accident prevention.
  • Weather Protection: Whenever possible protect bicycle parking area from weather.  We recommend that you use an existing overhang or covered walkway. Alternatively, construct a canopy or roof — either freestanding or attached to an existing building.
  • Avoid Conflict with Pedestrians: Locate racks so that parked bicycles don’t block the pedestrian path.  Select a bike rack with no protruding bars that could trip or injure cyclists or pedestrians.  Very low bar-type racks can be a hazards to pedestrians — not recommended.
  • Avoid Conflict with Automobile: Separate bicycle parking and auto parking and roads areas with space and a physical barrier. This prevents motor vehicles from damaging parked bicycles and keeps some thieves at a distance.  Most professional bike thieves use vans or similar vehicles to hide there activities and make a get-away with their booty concealed. The closer bicycle parking is to automobile parking, alleys, roads, etc., the better the opportunity for a bike thief.

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.

Greening Presentation for Onondaga County Public Library 5.7.10

Signage & QR Codes

At the LJ Design Institute last week a question from the audience got me thinking – the question was whether or not using digital signage, specifically LCD panels, were an energy efficient option and a waste reducing option (the idea being less paper would be used to announce programs, etc.)

The hive mind in the room came up with the answer that LED panels would be more energy efficient than LCD, that yes, it would reduce the amount of paper used and that there was a definite hip factor to the application of digital signage in libraries.

It got me thinking about something I heard at the PLA Conference at the Top Tech Tips panel discussion about QR-Codes – these cute squares of connection can be used by owners of smartphones to link to more information. Evidently stores use these, posting them by the front door so customers can connect with sale information or the online version of the store through their phone.

Libraries could make use of these as well for program announcements, posting of hours, board meetings or build them into a program – thinking of something like a scavenger hunt using clues found through the QR-Codes….

For now you can play with QR-Codes using this free QR-Code generator.  Stick one in your email signature, post one on your library’s front door and gauge reaction – as more patrons use smartphones the more potential there is to connect virtually with them.

2010 Library Journal Movers & Shakers

Humbling as it may be I’m owning up to having been named one of Library Journal’s 2010 Movers & Shakers. The best part of it has been the promotion of the idea that got me so excited about libraries going green to begin with; since I labored over this quote when interviewed for LJ I’ll just use it again: “Libraries that go green are demonstrating, in one of the most visible ways possible, a commitment to being good stewards of public dollars.”