How can you help your library customers breathe easier?

Equitable access to resources is an issue that affects the sustainability of our communities.  Access to vital resources, such as clean air and water, should be a basic right, but as recent events have demonstrated, is not always guaranteed.  In low-income and affluent communities alike, air quality can have an enormous impact on our health and quality of life. Perhaps you’ve noticed the effects of pollution and poor air quality in your community, and have wondered how your library can help.  But, have you thought about the quality of the air in your customers’ homes? For some library users, air quality in the home is a real concern, while others may not have ever thought deeply about the issue, but have experienced the effects of breathing toxins in daily while in their homes. And, if they have thought about the problem, some library customers may not know how they can accurately measure the air quality in their homes, or may lack the funds to hire a service or to purchase the equipment to do so.  To give individuals a way to address this problem, researchers from the CREATE Lab at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute developed a portable in-home sensor, the Speck monitor, that can determine indoor air quality by measuring the particles released in homes from household cleaners, pesticides, building materials, and more. The Speck monitor is now produced by Airviz Inc. (a spinoff of the CREATE Lab), and is manufactured under a license from Carnegie Mellon University.  In recogniztion of the fact that many of those who suffer most from the effects of poor indoor air-quality have low incomes, Airviz Inc. has developed a program to help bring the Speck technology to those who can’t afford to purchase their own.  To do so, Airviz Inc. is partnering with 100 public libraries to offer three devices to each, provided that the libraries will agree to circulate the Speck monitors in their communities.  To find out more about the Speck monitors, click here.  To find out more about the National Speck Library Program, and to fill out an application, click here.

Have you heard of another great program related to equity and sustainability? Add a comment below to share this information with the SustainRT community!

Posted by Christina J. J. Gangwisch

Do you have a sustainability-related library story to tell?

We are looking for presenters who would like to share their sustainability-related library projects during our program at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando.

Format: Presenters will have five minutes each to tell their story, with follow-up questions at the end of the program. Presenters may opt to use one fixed image (electronic or otherwise) as part of their presentation. The program will be held at ALA Annual on Sunday, June 26th from 10:30-11:30AM.

Eligibility: Anyone may submit a proposal, though preference will be given to SustainRT members.

Purpose: To share creative and important work that contributes to a more resilient, harmonious and holistic community through economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability work being done in libraries of all kinds.  We are seeking a diverse representation of innovative sustainability projects that go beyond the traditional “greening” of libraries.

To submit a proposal, send an email to Jason Nosek with the following:

  • Name
  • Institution or organization
  • Phone
  • Email
  • SustainRT member Y/N
  • Title of your presentation
  • Description of the presentation you are proposing to make
  • Brief statement telling us what excites you about your topic and/or the sustainability movement within the library profession

Proposals are due by Monday, April 4, 2016.

For more information about SustainRT, including how to become a member, see: