Sustainability Book Review: The Big Thaw

As a reoccurring feature on the Sustainability Roundtable blog, we will post reviews of books related to sustainability.  Interested in submitting your own review to the blog? Contact August at aolundsmith@gmail.com.

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The Big Thaw: Ancient Carbon, Modern Science, And A Race To Save The World

By Eric Scigliano, Chris Linder, et al.

Review by C. Daetwyler

Like so many of the best reads, I came across The Big Thaw while browsing in search of something else entirely, but it was a fortunate find indeed. A book on geoscience research in Siberia might not be the first thing to grab your attention, but it is well worth checking out.

This book introduces cutting-edge research on climate change in the Arctic, focusing on the work of the Polaris Project of the Woods Hole Research Center. It deals with big issues – carbon sequestration, the loss of permafrost, biome change, and how it could affect the future of the planet. But it is, ultimately, a hopeful story, about the people working diligently to understand the environment and learn about and adapt for the future. And the story goes farther afield, to look at the impact of change in other parts of the world.

The Big Thaw, for all its science, is really a collection of very personal stories. We are introduced to the lives of individual scientists, from senior scholars to young students; learning about what brought them to Siberia, and the importance and the adventure of their work.

Additionally, this is a beautiful book. Chris Linder’s photography takes us on an adventure through the Siberian wilderness, from forest to marsh to ice-filled cave, from grand panoramas to intimate shots of single flowers. But even more, what caught my attention are the portraits of scientists at work, of the daily lives of the scientists and students exploring the world and their hands-on experiences getting literally down and dirty with climate change.

This book can be an important part of any collection. It’s a gorgeous and engaging book, and a great introduction to a not always well understood aspect of climate science. It’s also an important chance to see the diversity at work in the field, as people from all walks of life work together to understand this fragile environment, and hope for the future.

 

Book Discussion Questions:

  1. The book talks extensively about the impact of climate change not just in the Arctic, but around the world. What changes have you seen in your community?
  2. There are profiles of a number of individual scientists and students in the book. Did any strike you as particularly interesting? Who spoke to your own experiences? 
  3. If you had an opportunity to go to Siberia to work with the scientists, would you do it? Why or why not?
  4. What photos stood out for you? Do you feel like looking at photos gave you a better sense of connection with the story?
  5. What can you do as a “library scientist” to combat climate change?

Sustainability Book Review: No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

As a new, reoccurring feature on the Sustainability Roundtable blog, we will be posting reviews of books related to sustainability. Enjoy our first review, written by Kacper Jarecki, below! Interested in submitting your own review to the blog? Contact August at aolundsmith@gmail.com.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference

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By Greta Thunberg

Review by Kacper Jarecki

I like to pet-sit since I enjoy making new animal friends. Over the holidays I was pet-sitting 2 cats in someone’s home. It was here that I saw Greta Thunberg’s book for the first time. The book is small – 106 pages, so it’s easy to pick up and start reading.

Greta’s personal story is very inspiring. She was born in 2003 and from a young age took a stand based on her belief of what is right. She has Asperger Syndrome. Now she is famous world-wide, even getting a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. She started getting attention in 2018, refusing to go to school at 15 years old to instead strike in front of Parliament in Sweden, her home country, holding up a sign to protest a lack of action on climate change. Since then, she’s given speeches world-wide – in the UK, Poland, Germany, France, USA, and more.

Greta’s speeches are collected here. Her style is very conversational and hard-hitting, for example, making a metaphor for global warming that “our house is on fire” (p.17) and “I want you to panic” (p.22). She also includes pertinent facts, many of which I didn’t even realize, such as that scientists estimate that 200 species go extinct every day (p.7). Greta is definitely capable of giving memorable quotes and keeping the reader’s attention engaged.

Besides being a primer on climate change, Greta also discusses overcoming hardships, such as her parents’ refusal to support her, to having Aspergers, to getting bullied on Facebook, not to mention the dire future she may inherit from the catastrophic effects of climate change. She writes “hope is something you have to earn” (p.38). Reading this book is a great motivation to go out and stand up for what you believe in.

Greta’s book is a great addition to any library. The book at full price is only $10, so any library with budget limitations can still easily obtain a copy. It appeals to a large audience from older kids to adults, and I can tell you from personal experience that cats will enjoy sleeping on the book while you are reading it.

 

Book Discussion Questions:

  1.       Greta writes “Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift” (p.28). What makes you unique and how do you use your gift to make the world a better place?
  2.       “What do we want the future living conditions for all species to be like?” (p.54). Describe what a perfect future would look like from your perspective.
  3.       One of Greta’s speeches is titled, “Can You Hear Me?” (p. 55). If you could say one thing to everyone in the world, what would you say?
  4.       Greta expressed anger at the previous generation for not doing enough to combat climate change and leaving a mess for future generations. When you were in your teens, what did you rebel against? Would the teen version of you approve of your current self?
  5.       Which speech of Greta’s is your favorite? Do you have any favorite quotes?

SustainRT 50 for 50: Celebrating Earth Day 2020

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Earth Day 2020, April 22, marks the 50th anniversary of this annual celebration! The first Earth Day in 1970 is traditionally recognized as having launched the modern environmental movement. SustainRT aims to help libraries of all kinds recognize Earth Day 2020 by crowdsourcing and promoting 50 actions that libraries can engage with to celebrate and honor this important day. The example actions crowdsourced over the next several months will be released on the SustainRT website at least one month in advance of Earth Day 2020. Libraries may choose to implement one or more of these actions on Earth Day 2020, during the lead up to Earth Day 2020, or all year long. Please help SustainRT crowdsource 50 for 50!

Submit your ideas for recommended actions or programs here!

Deadline extended: Call for SustainRT Coordinating Council Candidates, 2020

Are you passionate about sustainability in libraries? Are you looking for a leadership opportunity? If you answered “yes” to both questions, consider running for SustainRT Coordinating Council! We are looking for SustainRT Coordinating Council candidates for the following positions: coordinator-elect, secretary, treasurer, and member-at-large. Officer position descriptions are in the SustainRT bylaws. You can read below what the Coordinating Council is proposing at Officer position descriptions *Draft Revision*.

Candidates must be ALA and SustainRT personal members in good standing. Not a member? Go to the ALA membership page to join or renew!

If you want to know more about these positions or if you want to nominate yourself, please contact Tina Chan (tinachan@mit.edu) by November 30, 2019.

From Officer position descriptions *Draft Revision*:

Coordinator-Elect (Term: 3 years – coordinator-elect, coordinator, immediate past coordinator) Serves as Liaison from the Board for a SustainRT committee, reporting activities and updates at each board meeting, appoints committee chairs for the next Board year. Works with ALA Liaison to update Board listserv for coming year, updates org chart for coming year. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual, and preferably attend ALA Midwinter.

Secretary (Term: 2 years) Records meeting minutes, submits for edits and posts to Connect within one week of each meeting. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual and ALA Midwinter.

Treasurer (Term: 2 years) Serves as Liaison from the Board to the Membership Committee, reporting activities and updates at each board meeting. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual and ALA Midwinter.

Member-at-large (Term: 2 years) Serves as Liaison from the Board for a SustainRT committee, reporting activities and updates at each board meeting. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual or ALA Midwinter.

ALA Midwinter Bicycle Ride – NY to Philly

Save half-a-ton of carbon emissions from going into the atmosphere by riding your bicycle from NY to Philadelphia to ALA Midwinter! This will be a 2-day ride and it will be totally fun and will be something to remember forever!

Even if you are not planning on attending ALA Midwinter you are welcome to join us for the ride from NYC or Princeton to Philly!

DAY 1: Leaving NYC – Thursday, January, 23rd. 65 miles the first day to Princeton. 9:00 AM – will Leave from Battery Park City Library (175 North End Ave, New York, NY 10282) and bike to Princeton Public Library (65 miles). Staying overnight – either at a hotel or a friendly librarian’s house.

DAY 2: Leaving from Princeton, NJ – Friday, January 24th. 45 miles to Philadelphia. 9:30 AM – will Leave from Albert Einstein’s House and arrive in Philly at 3:30 PM to sign in for ALA Midwinter.

The objective of this ride is to collaboratively raise awareness of carbon emissions as well as Sustain RT’s mission. Together on our bike ride we will further develop Sustain RT’s community, to forge bonds between members, and to make life-long friendships. We will document the ride with video, and social media posts. We will also stop at sites along the route and visit local libraries. There will also be opportunities to train together before the trip! There will also be opportunities to learn about bike touring, to learn basic bike repair, and to get your bike in touring shape before the ride!

Please sign up via our survey to participate. We hope you can join us!

Note: We will have free safety vests for the first 7 riders to register. Bicycle ride is only one way. We are actively pursuing sponsorship but you are still responsible for any costs that arise, such as ALA conference registration, food, hotel, bicycle repairs, and any possible health expenses.

Call for SustainRT Coordinating Council Candidates, 2020

Are you passionate about sustainability in libraries? Are you looking for a leadership opportunity? If you answered “yes” to both questions, consider running for SustainRT Coordinating Council! We are looking for SustainRT Coordinating Council candidates for the following positions: coordinator-elect, secretary, treasurer, and member-at-large. Officer position descriptions are in the SustainRT bylaws. You can read below what the Coordinating Council is proposing at Officer position descriptions *Draft Revision*.

Candidates must be ALA and SustainRT personal members in good standing. Not a member? Go to the ALA membership page to join or renew!

If you want to know more about these positions or if you want to nominate yourself, please contact Tina Chan (tinachan@mit.edu) by November 20, 2019.

From Officer position descriptions *Draft Revision*:

Coordinator-Elect (Term: 3 years – coordinator-elect, coordinator, immediate past coordinator) Serves as Liaison from the Board for a SustainRT committee, reporting activities and updates at each board meeting, appoints committee chairs for the next Board year. Works with ALA Liaison to update Board listserv for coming year, updates org chart for coming year. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual, and preferably attend ALA Midwinter.

Secretary (Term: 2 years) Records meeting minutes, submits for edits and posts to Connect within one week of each meeting. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual and ALA Midwinter. Treasurer (Term: 2 years) Serves as Liaison from the Board to the Membership Committee, reporting activities and updates at each board meeting. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual and ALA Midwinter.

Member-at-large (Term: 2 years) Serves as Liaison from the Board for a SustainRT committee, reporting activities and updates at each board meeting. Conference attendance: Attend ALA Annual or ALA Midwinter.

Webinar Opportunity! Growing Communities Together: Libraries and Gardens

Join SustainRT Online Education Committee for an encore presentation from the 2019 ALA conference.

Growing Communities Together: Libraries and Gardens

Time: October 3, 2019, 1-2pm CST

Presenters: Kathy McKay, Pete Villasenor, Meg Wilson, Carrie Banks

Register, at: https://forms.gle/dp1sUXMSdyGFY6Ae8

Description: Curious about the green things outside the library’s windows? Or are you craving green things outside the library’s windows? Find out more about how libraries are are embracing gardens. Are you interested in LEED certification or just making your library more sustainable? Does your local food pantry need fresh produce? Are the children in the children’s room getting antsy? Are your teens bored? Does your ESL class need a focus? Do your students need a break? Or a hands-on science activity? Gardens are the answer. Learn from model programs around the country. Hear from Peter Villasenor, Branch Manager at Oakland Public Library’s Cesar Chavez Branch, about their bilingual seed library and container garden. Explore the National Library of Medicine’s healing garden with the Master Gardener who tends it. Discover the 17 indoor gardens of the Gwinnett County Public Library, you will be amazed by their harvests. Take home your very own seeds to get you started on your own garden. Remember when you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need!

Update from the SustianRT Coordinator

It is with much relief and hopeful anticipation for the year ahead that we report  SustainRT is once again sustainably staffed! After a tumultuous winter and early spring (marked by multiple leadership departures), a successful spring election and a period of intense committee volunteer recruitment resulted in a re-energized SustainRT Board and six fully staffed committees. We are especially delighted to report that SustainRT finally reached the membership threshold in 2018 (membership equivalent to at least 1% of personal ALA memberships) that qualified us to elect our first dedicated ALA Councilor in Spring 2019.

In spite of the administrative shakeup of the past year, good things did happen with SustainRT this past year. The Membership Committee, with the help of SustainRT’s first LIS intern, launched a mentoring program in late Spring 2019. The Online Education and Programming Committees launched multiple virtual and in-person educational opportunities. The Booklist Committee launched the first, annual SustainRT “Top 10” list of recommended books for children about the environment, playing in nature, gardening, and more, and the Environmental Scan Taskforce launched the Sustainable Libraries Database in  Zotero (submissions are always welcomed). The Governance Committee, with the help of SRRT’s Al Kagan, worked to help ALA Endowment Trustees consider the advantages to more ESG investments for the ALA endowment and took the lead on the ALA 2019 Annual SustainRT Chair’s program on carbon offsets for travel.

If you are interested in the work of SustainRT, please join us in the year ahead!

Uta
SustainRT Coordinator
www.ala.org/rt/sustainrt

______________________________

Uta Hussong-Christian
Associate Professor  | Science Librarian
Oregon State University

Join SustainRT’s nominating committee!

Hello SustainRT members,

Do you want to be involved with SustainRT? Were you involved in the past and want to contribute again? If so, consider joining SustainRT’s nominating committee! We seek members who will recruit our next board members. With your help, we will recruit for a coordinator elect, member-at-large, treasurer, and secretary. The time commitment to be part of the nominating committee will be from September-early December 2019.

Please let me know by September 10 if interested in joining the nominating committee or if you have questions.

Best,
Tina Chan
SustainRT Member-at-Large
tinachan[at]mit.edu

Benefits of Sustainability on a Small Scale

By Kayla Kuni

Libraries are the perfect place to have sustainability discussions since libraries are known for providing educational opportunities. At my former public library, we hosted films that focused on environmentalism followed by community discussion. The library then began hosting a weekly organic farmer’s market (which continues to this day) to better inform local residents about the concept of eating locally and eating with the seasons. I heard several customers ask why they could not buy a tomato from local farmers, but they could get one from Winn Dixie. Our local farmers could then educate our residents about how far that tomato had to travel to arrive at Winn Dixie and how the transportation process of said tomato was actually leaving a huge ecological impact on the environment. The library’s collection provided further evidence for the patron to read in order to confirm what they had learned at the market.

As structures, libraries are being designed with sustainability in mind. The green report cards issued by San Francisco Public Library are inspiring. The report cards take into account the LEED standards of “sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality” (“Green Report Cards,” 2019, para. 2). While the budget for San Francisco Public Libraries is relatively high compared to others, and some may feel that LEED standards are expensive to implement, there are design decisions that come into play when a library building is renovated.

The topic of paper usage (Hitchcock & Willard, 2015, p. 39) is one that is very interesting since libraries tend to print a lot in lieu of storing information on something like a digitized spreadsheet. In some ways libraries are very behind with the times in that certain policies require printed records to be retained. That being said, libraries are often on the cutting edge of digitizing resources. Perhaps librarians can be bigger advocates for change in how we envision records to be retained in the future and why they feel that changes need to be made. The cost of the paper, and the ink for printing, is very high, but what truly alarms me is that so much time is wasted in dealing with paper (Hitchcock & Willard, 2015, p. 39). Hitchcock & Willard’s (2015) suggestion that productivity is lost, resources are wasted, and nothing additional is added to the company’s value, should make any organization consider going paper free.

The topic of sustainability and libraries is one that I have a great deal of interest in. In 2017, I returned to school in order to work on an MBA with an emphasis in sustainable businesses. At the American Library Association Midwinter meeting this past January in Seattle, the ALA Council (of which I am an elected member) voted to include “sustainability” as a core value in librarianship (ALA, 2019). If we are truly passionate about it, we need to have conversations about what sustainability is and what behaviors we need to change to become more sustainable.

References

American Library Association. (2019, January 29). ALA adds sustainability to core values. Retrieved from https://clrc.org/49707-2/

“Green Report Cards.” (2019). San Francisco Public Library. Retrieved from
https://sfpl.org/?pg=2000187201

Hitchcock, D. & Willard, M. (2015). The business guide to sustainability: Practical strategies and tools for organizations (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kayla Kuni is a librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Prior to working for PHSC, Kayla worked in a public library for over six years. In both academic and public libraries, Kayla has taught future business owners how to access resources that will help grow small businesses. In 2017, she was named the Outstanding Public Servant by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce for her work with the community. Kayla is pursuing an MBA, with an emphasis on sustainability, from the University of South Florida.