Sustainability Strategies for Libraries and Communities

From American Libraries, 2/13/2018

Stories of Sustainability: Librarians Explore Different Strategies for a Changing World

February 13, 2018

Abstract: Terra Dankowki reports on the panel presentation, “Sustainability Strategies for Libraries and Communities,” part of the Symposium on the Future of Libraries series at the American Library Association’s 2018 Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Denver on Monday. The session was sponsored by the Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT).

Interview with Rebekkah Smith Aldrich

From the ALA Editions Blog 3/23/2018

Ensuring libraries’ future through sustainable thinking: an interview with Rebekkah Smith Aldrich

As Rachel Carson famously said in Silent Spring, “Nothing in nature

ALA Editions (2018)

exists alone.” Libraries do not exist alone. Library leaders do not exist alone. We are all connected to the wider world around us. As libraries we need to be embedded, in an authentic and meaningful way, into the lives of those we serve. That means understanding the status of the building blocks of life, that means awareness of the wider world around us. The library is how we translate our desire to be of service to our fellow citizens. We cannot be relevant if we do not understand what people are currently dealing with or facing in the future.
— Rebekkah Smith Aldrich

Meet our SustainRT Candidates for Treasurer!

Ameet Doshi

My name is Ameet and I am passionate about sustainability and libraries. I’m currently a librarian at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA, and working on a transformational $77 million project that involves a complete rethinking of the academic research library spaces and services (“Library Next”). As part of this initiative, I have been able to leverage my LEED AP credential to influence the sustainability of our new leading-edge green library. I would appreciate your vote!

Casey Conlin

For the past 3 years, I’ve been working with the Sustainability Initiative of the New York Library Association to define what sustainability means for libraries, and to create tools to help librarians make their organizations and their communities resilient places where people can thrive. Our work focuses on the triple bottom line of sustainability to ensure all library services and programs are socially equitable, economically feasible, and environmentally sound. As Treasurer, I hope to help connect SustainRT with our members to figure out how to bring the best resources to librarians to help them build relationships in their communities, and increase access to their services in affordable, environmentally-responsible ways.

Meet our SustainRT Candidates for Secretary!

Denise Brush

I believe that I am well-qualified to contribute to the ALA Sustainability Round Table as Secretary due to my experiences with serving as a secretary for various organizations, with academic and public librarianship, and with sustainability and environmental issues. My undergraduate degree is in civil and environmental engineering, and I have been science and engineering librarian at Rowan University in New Jersey for 12 years. Prior to that I worked in a public library for 3 years. Over the past several years I have been active in local environmental groups such as Food & Water Watch and Transition Towns US. I serve on the environmental commission in my town, which holds a Bronze Certification from Sustainable Jersey. I was the secretary of my neighborhood civic association as well as secretary of the Green Party of Delaware for 2 years, and have been secretary of the Green Party of New Jersey since 2016. I believe passionately that both sustainability and libraries have important roles to play in our immediate future. I am excited about the initiatives that SUSTAIN-RT has been working on and believe that my organizational skills can help bring them to fruition successfully.

Lisa Kropp

As past secretary for the Youth Services Section of my state association (NYLA), I have experience in taking and posting accurate minutes in a timely, organized fashion. I joined NYLA’s Sustainability Initiative because I wanted to help my local community move forward using the triple bottom line of environmental, economic, and social equity. Part of my work with NYLA-SI was having my library serve as a pilot site for its sustainable libraries benchmark program. Today, we are one of thirty libraries fully participating in the just launched sustainable libraries benchmark certification. My work for the Sustainability Initiative also focuses on creating curriculum and serving as a mentor and trainer for the Community Change Agents program, also in its pilot year. We work with five library/community partner teams on projects that promote resiliency and sustainability. If elected to the SustainRT board as Secretary, I hope to assist the group with share knowledge gained from my state’s commitment to sustainable library practices so that SustainRT can begin to cross pollinate across the different ALA divisions and increase both its membership and ability to work with libraries across the country on developing sustainable communities and workplaces.

Meet our SustainRT Candidates for Member-a-Large!

Tina Chan

As a social sciences librarian at MIT Libraries, I specialize in the areas of energy and the environment in the social sciences. My role includes collaborating with librarian colleagues who specialize in energy and the environment in science, engineering, and urban studies and planning. By supporting MIT’s minors in energy studies and in environment & sustainability, I am able to build on the robust collections for students and faculty members.

I am interested in SustainRT’s member-at-large position to be more involved with sustainability and libraries. Sustainability affects everyone, and libraries provide information to help the world be a better place. Libraries are the center of our communities as they provide access to information for everyone, and we create a positive impact in our communities. I believe I can make a difference if elected by promoting the importance of sustainability and libraries through education and advocating the vital work we do.

Joseph Fox

My desire is for communities to realize their potential to conserve resources, teach them how to advocate for clean air and soil, grow useful plants, and redesign spaces to actuate all of these things. I believe that libraries are situated at a place and in a time in which we can use our collective energy to advocate for a cleaner and more efficient world, one that evolves away from reliance on fossil fuels.

I have almost 20 years experience in libraries of many kinds, and have been involved in walkability initiatives, employee health, community battery collection, and redesigning spaces. Foundational to my career is reuse and recycling of our materials, and I also led a composting program in 2012 that left one of our branch libraries with a sustainable resource.

The aims of SustainRT should be to share and promote ways that libraries can realize ways to conserve and also to make partnerships across our communities that permit us all to change the paradigm on resource conservation.

Arlene Hopkins

Serving on the SustainRT board as a Member-at-Large will enable me to bring 30+ years of experience as an educator, architect and library planner to comprehensive sustainability and resilience in library planning, programs, collections and facilities.  Friends and I have created a Facebook page “Cultivating Urban Resilience – Next Gen Libraries.”

I would like to be a resource for librarians working to integrate sustainability and resilience into their libraries, and to develop linkages and networks across our communities.  Please note my experience at  or read “Sustainability in Public Libraries: Creating a hub for resilient and sustainable community culture,” Arlene Hopkins and Stephen Maack | June 23, 2017.   I have presented twice at ALA on sustainable library planning, including 2017 Chicago where I spoke on  “Next Gen Library Planning: Strategic Library Planning for Sustainability and Resilience in Community.”

Scott Kushner

The primary concerns of sustainability – environmental, economic and social justice and equality are not just a preference but an absolute necessity for the survival of our communities, whether it’s local, nationally and/or globally. We need to find a way to effectively communicate this to all the stakeholders in our communities, starting with our library community (e.g. staff, Boards, whole systems, etc.) so that we can take a leadership role in helping to make our entire citizenry lead sustainable lives. In my personal life I have been actively involved in supporting remedying environmental and social concerns. I am an active member of the NYLA Sustainability Initiative as well as being involved in beginning a local initiative modeled on NYLA’s.

Meet our SustainRT Candidates for Coordinator-Elect

Uta Hussong-Christian

I am delighted, once again, to introduce myself as a candidate for Chair-elect of SustainRT. I grew up grounded in practices of sustainability; my siblings and I learned there was a different way to be in the world. Those early lessons stayed with me and now serve me well in my personal and work lives. Today the best lessons coming out of communities like SustainRT or my city’s Sustainability Coalition are that there is ALWAYS more to learn and that there are so many more ways to apply that knowledge than I, alone, understand. SustainRT’s mission to exchange ideas or opportunities and to present resources relevant to sustainability speaks to this beautifully.

I seek out this leadership opportunity not because I know all there is to know but because I have some pieces of experience to offer to the collective effort. If elected as SustainRT Chair-elect, I bring my experience with leading member-driven organizations (as President of ACRL’s Oregon chapter); my experience with starting new initiatives (a compostables collection program at Oregon State University Libraries); and my willingness to continue learning to live more sustainably.

Jill Friedmann

I have a background in museums and archives. My master’s degree is in Museum Studies, not Library Science. So it may not surprise some of you to hear me say that I believe part of the future of sustainable libraries includes a workforce from varied backgrounds. Of course we need people with library science degrees, but we need to be open to hiring people with other skills sets and that means other types of degrees. As Coordinator-Elect, I hope to spend the first year learning the ropes behind the scenes of SustainRT so that when I become the Coordinator in year two I can keep supporting the roundtable initiatives and help the membership moving forward. Libraries are the resource centers for our communities and we should set the example in our communities as sustainability leaders. SustainRT should, can, and does provide its membership with resources to become those leaders and my role as Coordinator-Elect will be to ensure those efforts continue and expand.

Meet our candidates for ALA President!

Wanda Brown

I see the role of sustainability as critical to our organization.  As an information association, we are the voice to our profession. We have to be the link between what we want our libraries to model as well as the educator and training around current relevant topics. I see the Sustainability round table as the primary developer of guiding principles and the facilitator of outreach programs that encourage sustainability efforts within libraries.  Your mission is to educate, inform and connect. I see your round table as the driving force for developing and sharing of values and initiating programs that can be replicated throughout any and all libraries. The task of educating is a revolving door that never closes.

As President of ALA I will definitely support the work of the round table. Collaboration remains the key for us in educating our communities.  Combining forces with other affiliates will increase the number of people we reach. In keeping with the theme of “Libraries Lead” perhaps we could launch a state by state campaign of planned events around sustainability education. The communities we serve are still not as knowledgeable as we’d like around the issues of environmental and economic consequences associated with our actions. Not only partnering with other divisions of ALA, we also encourage libraries to collaborate with other community groups. We could launch a national day/week of collaborative programming within each county.

Peter Hepburn

Sustainability is relevant to the entirety of ALA.  There is not one of us – member or staff – who is not touched in some way by what sustainability means.  Whether we define it in terms of environmentally responsible practices, or we think of it more broadly in terms of how ALA manages and maintains its many assets, the concept should matter to us all.  We see this in our libraries already.  As my campaign site ( declares, “Libraries sustain our communities and institutions”.  They serve as models and resources for sustainable practices.  ALA can provide the space for exchange of ideas such that more and more libraries adopt and further disseminate those practices.

Sustainability of and within ALA is a priority for my presidency.  I eagerly await the report of the Task Force on Sustainability, and I will focus on ensuring its recommendations come to fruition.  I also want to facilitate collaboration and cooperation across the various ALA units so that work on sustainability will be shared.  SustainRT could be a partner for so many others – think of how it could contribute to divisional conferences, or how it could develop programs and tools with any other round table – and as president, I want to encourage those partnerships as much as possible.

I learned a lot from SustainRT (and joined it!) in my three years as its Executive Board liaison, and I am keen that the interests of the round table become the interests of the association as a whole.

“You Don’t Have to “Go Big” to Make a Difference” – Webinar archive now available!

Did you miss the webinar on March 1st, You Don’t Have to “Go Big” to Make a Difference: How Our Purchasing Choices and Daily Habits Can Build a More Sustainable Society?

Our presenter for this webinar, Sharon Rowe, CEO and Founder of Eco-Bags Products, Inc., is recognized as a thought leader in social innovation and sustainable, responsible clean supply chain production.  In this recording of the March 1, 2018 SustainRT webinar, she shares her experiences in building a profitable, mission & value aligned business while maintaining a healthy work/life balance – topics covered in her new book “The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don’t Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living”.

Click here to view the webinar archive.