ALA Annual: SustainRT Recap!

Thank you to all who came out and contributed to an amazing ALA annual conference. Britt Fagerheim and the membership committee team provided us with a great social get-together before the conference, and the many accomplishments of the roundtable and its committees were reviewed at our membership meeting. We were very happy to be able to present the Westerville Public Library with the SustainRT Citation for Wellness in the Workplace for their work in bringing pay equity and a living wage to library workers. The slides from our membership meeting are available here, and you can also access a new one page-version of the SustainRT Strategic Plan, as well as the complete SustainRT Strategic Plan

In other good news, the carbon neutrality resolution has passed! A special thanks to Sustainability Round Table Councilor Matthew Bollerman for proposing resolution CD#53. The Roundtable resolution CD#46 has also passed. You can read the recap of this council meeting  from the American Libraries blog.

Missed one of the SustainRT’s programs? We also have the presentation slides, links to resources, and presentation highlights from the following programs:

SustainRT Discussion Group on Measuring Sustainability in Libraries

Library staff and stakeholders are invited to discuss measures, metrics, and systems they’ve used and are interested in using to determine their organization’s sustainability. SustainRT defines sustainability using the triple bottom for libraries to make decisions and take actions that are socially equitable, economically feasible, and environmentally sound. Some measures currently in use in libraries include the Sustainable Library Certification Program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge, Energy Star, Net Zero Energy Building Certification, and Passive House.

Measuring Sustainability in Libraries 

Sustainable Choices in Library Prizes & Promotional Materials

Join us for a conversation on addressing social, economic, and environmental sustainability in reimagining the role and utility of library swag with representatives from a variety of library settings and responsible for a variety of library programming and services. The things our libraries provide as prizes, incentives, and thank you’s to our patrons send a message to the people we serve and have an effect on our local and global communities. These exchanges can be an opportunity to build community connections, support local economies, provide experiences, and support people in making more sustainable economic and environmental choices.

  • Mary Callahan (Moderator)

Children’s Librarian

Queens Public Library at Hunters Point

Long Island City, New York

Mary Callahan is a children’s librarian at the Queens Public Library at Hunters Point in Queens, New York City. Mary has worked in the Queens Public Library system for thirteen years and has a special interest in integrating science and nature into library programs for children. She worked for QPL’s innovative Children’s Library Discovery Center, which features museum-style science exhibits and a wide range of STEM programming. Her current library is home to the new Hunters Point Environmental Education Center, which hosts programs on the environment and sustainability for all ages.

  • Marina Marquez

Branch Manager

Cleveland Public Library

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland Public Library’s East 131st Street Branch staff take a non-traditional approach to programming and embracing our core value to be TRANSFORMATIONAL.  Practicing sustainability is embracing the limited resources we have through upcycling/recycling materials on hand that leads to creativity and innovation. 

In addition, the Corlett Volunteens is a teen group that sets the learning agenda for youth at the branch. The Volunteens launched a teen-led book club, garden club, and created unique eco-friendly activities and opportunities (such as the Cardboard Arcade, a Newspaper Fashion Show, and a Puppet Parade) for children in the neighborhood to reconnect with their library.  

Cleveland Seed Bank packets

  • Sarah M. Vital

Business Librarian

Saint Mary’s College of California

Moraga, California

To reduce spending on and waste of minimally useful new plastic items, and to increase reuse opportunities, we’ve switched our “swag” giveaways to what students really want: school supplies! This year’s summer reading program participants will receive a branded canvas pencil bag and simple, often asked for supplies which are useful to the students and easily reused in-office if left over.

Office Supply Grab Bag

  • Teri Markson

Senior Librarian

Los Angeles Public Library

Los Angeles, California

At the urging of the Summer Reading committee and library staff, the Los Angeles Public Library has made a conscious effort to steer away from the practice of buying incentives and prizes that heavily impact the environment such as plastic bags, toys and tchotchkes. Instead, we have elected to purchase fewer and more eco-friendly products manufactured either locally or in North America. 

Sustainable Choices in Library Prizes Teri Markson, Senior Librarian Los Angeles Public Library


  • Kacper Jarecki

Queens Public Library

Peninsula, Team B

At Queens Public Library at Cambria Heights, we had partnered with our local supermarket to distribute fresh apples and bananas once a month to mostly children, but also to teens and adults. It was a great partnership because the library gave away healthy snacks that everyone enjoyed with minimal waste.

Member Monday: Jennifer Day

Welcome to Member Mondays! The first Monday of each month, we’ll feature a member of SustainRT with a short profile.

We’re super excited to continue our series with this profile of Jennifer Day, Librarian at Toledo Lucas County Public Library. In addition to reading Jennifer’s profile, below, you can also connect via her LinkedIn! All SustainRT members are welcomed and encouraged to follow Jennifer’s example and fill out our short self-nomination form in order to become featured in a future Member Monday themselves. We’re looking forward to getting to know one another a little better in hopes of strengthening our community of people committed to sustainability in our profession. Happy Member Monday!

Sustainability Book Review: How to Prepare for Climate Change

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

How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos by David Pogue
Book Review by Kacper Jarecki

This book was released just recently so I wanted to take a look. First of all, a note about the author David Pogue. He is a correspondent on CBS Sunday Morning and NOVA on PBS. He is the author of books such as Mac Unlocked, Windows 10: The Missing Manual, Opera for Dummies, Magic for Dummies, Pogue’s Basics: Life, and a bunch more. David Pogue definitely seems to have a lot of diverse interests and his career doesn’t solely focus on sustainability. That being said, he does bring some unique perspectives and interesting suggestions for how to survive in different catastrophic situations. Some chapter titles include Preparing for Flood, Preparing for Drought, and Preparing for Hurricanes and Tornados.

This is a book that you don’t necessarily read straight through: each chapter stands on its own so you can read whatever topic interests you at the moment. There is a chapter about the best places to live with coastal cities like NYC where I live, not being ideal with rising sea levels. There is a list of the top 15 cities that will be least affected by global warming in the US: with Madison, Wisconsin taking the number 1 spot – 5 lakes, 260 parks, 11 beaches, and 200 miles of hiking and biking trails. Portland, Oregon is on the list too – and that is the site of the PLA (Public Library Association) Conference in March 2022, so I hope I can go to the conference and take a look around in the city J There are also chapters about how to build your home so that it withstands different catastrophes better, where to invest your money, and what plants to grow in your garden.

David Pogue gives a lot of suggestions including many out of the box ones. For example, there is a section about whether or not to have kids: being child-free keeps “9,400 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere,” but additionally also frees up time to “work on the planet’s behalf.” He lists what to have in an emergency bag, including cigarettes because if you’re a smoker because “the last thing you need is the stress of withdrawal when you’re living through trauma.” And he says applying antiperspirant to the back of your neck will help keep cool in the summer. He even recommends that atheists join a local church or temple, if at the very least to cultivate a supportive social network.

As evidenced by the past year with the pandemic, we are definitely living in some special times. It’s helpful to think and plan about different possible situations that may come up in our lifetime. How to Prepare for Climate Change definitely gives a lot of food for thought.

Discussion Questions:

1.     What are some possible ways climate change can affect your current living area?

2.     If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? What are some features that are important to you (i.e. living by the beach, being next to a park, etc.)?

3.     What are some things you can do right now to get prepared in case of an emergency?

4.     Which of David Pogue’s suggestions stood out to you the most?

5.     Do you have any tips for surviving a catastrophe that you’d like to share?

Webinar: Cultivating Sustainable Community in an Academic Library

The University of Denver Libraries Sustainability Committee is committed to working toward a more just and sustainable future. We have focused our efforts on educational outreach, modeling sustainability best practices, and building community within the library, as well as with the greater campus community, and often in partnership with the Center for Sustainability. In this presentation, we’ll discuss some of our successful initiatives, such as Zero Waste Finals, and outline some of the challenges we’ve encountered and lessons learned, especially as we have adapted our work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested in attending this webinar on June 22nd 11am MT? Sign up here!

Join us: Pre-Annual Social Hour (virtual)

A person smiling while looking at a tablet. Creative Commons licensed image.

Hello, all SustainRT people!

We are gathering virtually for a pre-Annual Social Hour Tuesday, June 22, 4-5pm CST, and you’re invited!

Drop in or stay the hour; share or listen to climate change stories, passions, project updates; learn about SustainRT’s mentorship program.

The registration link is accessible here.

See you “there!” –SustainRT Membership Committee

Member Monday: Melissa Hozik

Welcome to Member Mondays! The first Monday of each month, we’ll feature a member of SustainRT with a short profile.

We’re super excited to continue our series with this profile of Melissa Hozik, Adult Services Librarian at East Brunswick Public Library. All SustainRT members are welcomed and encouraged to follow Melissa’s example and fill out our short self-nomination form in order to become featured in a future Member Monday themselves. We’re looking forward to getting to know one another a little better in hopes of strengthening our community of people committed to sustainability in our profession. Happy Member Monday!

Westerville Public Library to Receive 2021 SustainRT Citation for Wellness in the Workplace

Westerville Library Staff

The Westerville Public Library will be awarded the 2021 SustainRT Citation for Wellness in the Workplace in recognition of the great strides the library has made in pay equity for their library workers. In autumn 2020, the library board passed a new pay range scale that resulted in a 34.80% increase for the lowest pay ranges in the organization starting in the new fiscal year. This citation awards their progress towards meeting the needs of staff and promoting wellness through a commitment to pay equity for library workers. SustainRT Coordinator,  The citation helps promote the work done by leaders and provide examples of what can be done to foster staff wellness. 

The new pay range scale consulted pay ranges in similar local industries and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Living Wage Calculator to ensure that even the lowest pay range in the organization provided a living minimum wage for Franklin County, where the Westerville Public Library is located. This new strategy resulted in pay increases for all library staff—but most importantly, the largest increase went to those library workers in the lowest pay ranges. Across the board, staff received a 3 percent raise, with workers in the lowest pay range receiving a 20.4% increase from the pay range midpoint as well as an annual raise of 3%, resulting in a 34.8% raise overall from 2020.  By raising the wages of their workers across the board, the library has not only demonstrated a commitment to fair pay and pay equity, but shown library workers that their work is valuable. Additionally during the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, the Westerville Public Library administration was able to maintain staff salaries by reducing general operating funds by 20%, enacting a hiring freeze, and offering voluntary furloughs for employees not ready to return to work. Instead of cutting library worker wages during a time of financial hardship, the Westerville Public Library chose to expand worker wages. 

SustainRT is pleased to recognize the efforts of Westerville Public Library to address staff wellness and pay equity with the 2021 Citation for Wellness in the Workplace. Representatives of the library will receive a plaque from SustainRT in recognition of this achievement at the roundtable’s annual membership meeting during ALA’s Annual Conference.

SustainRT’s Citation for Wellness in the Workplace carries on the work begun by ALA Past-President Loida Garcia-Febo with her Presidential Citation for Wellness in the Workplace and her commitment to the wellness of library workers. Garcia-Febo says, “As a woman with deep interests in mental and physical health, and the well-being of library workers, wellness is of utmost importance to me. Libraries have the power to help transform lives through efforts promoting wellness. I hope this citation motivates libraries everywhere to support the overall well-being of their staff.” 

For questions or more info, see SustainRT Citation for Wellness in the Workplace page or contact SustainRT Coordinator, Casey Conlin.

Member Monday: Uta Hussong-Christian

Welcome to Member Mondays! The first Monday of each month, we’ll feature a member of SustainRT with a short profile.

We’re super excited to continue our series with this profile of Uta Hussong-Christian, Associate Professor and Science Librarian and Oregon State University. All SustainRT members are welcomed and encouraged to follow Uta’s example and fill out our short self-nomination form in order to become featured in a future Member Monday themselves. We’re looking forward to getting to know one another a little better in hopes of strengthening our community of people committed to sustainability in our profession. Happy Member Monday!

Sustainability Book Review: Music for Tigers

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 -at-

Photo by form PxHere

Review: Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman

Reviewed by Angele DeNeve, Assistant Manager Queens Library at Peninsula

Spoiler Alert: This review talks about the ending of Music for Tigers.

How could logging, mining and conservation possibly be connected to music and tigers? Luisa, a 12- year-old musician from Canada, is sent across the world to spend time with her uncle in the Tasmanian Rainforest. The land belonged to her ancestors and, unbeknownst to her, is being taken over to create easier access for logging and mining of its natural resources. 

Luisa is disconnected from nature and completely unaware of the human effect on the Tasmanian Rainforest. Upon arrival, her only concern is finding time to practice for her upcoming audition for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. However, after spending time in the rainforest, getting to know her family’s history and meeting indigenous people of the area, Luisa’s focus begins to shift to the injustice of the loss of her family’s land to mining industries and the damage the mining is doing to the rainforest and its inhabitants.  In particular, Luisa learns of the local “tigers,” or Tasmanian tigers believed to be extinct. 

As the days pass Luisa learns of her family history through the journals of her great grandmother and discovers her connection to the land.  After spending time with Colin, a local boy with autism who is an expert on environmental and local history, Luisa learns about the rainforest, the extinction of species, the history of the land and how to survive in the wilderness. She also makes the connection that people who don’t understand autism spectrum disorder can misunderstand and mistreat people who fall on the spectrum. Once Luisa is informed, she becomes sympathetic to her friend and defends and protects him from others. Similarly, once she is educated about the Tasmanian Rainforest, she feels compelled to do what she can to improve the situation.  

While Luisa can’t save the land from the mining industry, she can help to protect the Tasmanian tigers using her music. Luisa’s music, like her great grandmother’s music, connects her to the last surviving Tasmanian tiger, enabling the safe capture and relocation of the animal before the land is taken over. Luisa not only saves the tiger, makes a friend and broadens her mind, but the experience helps her to succeed at her next audition. After being so focused on one thing for so long, Luisa sees that opening herself up to new experiences makes her a better human being and a better musician.

I appreciate that this story was set in an unusual place, with unusual species and carries such powerful messages about conservation, empathy, and personal growth. The most prevalent lesson being that once you learn about any type of mistreatment (land, species, human or otherwise) and see its impact first hand, it becomes your duty to respond. Most importantly, watching Luisa use her talents to make a change is a wonderful lesson on the effect one person’s actions can have on the world around us.

Extension activities for librarians working with youth:

  1. Have children locate the Tasmanian Rainforest on a map and find one recent article relating to the rainforest.
  2. Begin family history projects where children research their roots going back as many generations as possible – highlighting marriages, moves and career paths that impacted future generations.
  3. Research a Tasmanian aboriginal person. Share information in group discussions or poster projects.
  4. Research an endangered or extinct species and find the contributing factors to its downfall.

Top 10 Sustainability-Themed Children’s Books

Photo by form PxHere

Each year, the Sustainability Round Table Booklist Committee curates an annual list of 10 notable children’s books on nature, conservation, and communities that reflect the mission of SustainRT “to exchange ideas and opportunities regarding sustainability in order to move toward a more equitable, healthy, and economically viable society”. Check out the 2021 list today by clicking here!

We’re also excited to share the responses of two authors to their books’ inclusion on the 2021 list. Brooke Smith, author of The Keeper of Wild Words, wrote:

I’m so honored to have my book The Keeper of Wild Words chosen as one of the top 10 sustainability themed children’s books of 2021. One of the definitions of sustainability is to endure. To endure is to live on, remain in existence, last. When I found out that the Oxford Junior Dictionary was removing over 100 natural words from its pages because they no longer felt they had relevance for today’s children, I knew I needed to do something. I wanted to help make sure that these wild words live on for future generations.  If the language of the natural world disappears, how will we know what to protect? To love? To cherish? Our children have been handed a world that is in a state of crisis in many ways. As a writer I’m determined to give them what I can…a story that celebrates the natural world and all of these beautiful words, so they can always be remembered.

Lindsey Carmichael, author of The Boreal Forest, wrote:

I am absolutely thrilled that The Boreal Forest has been chosen as one of the best sustainability-themed children’s books for 2021! The boreal biome provides lumber and paper and food and traditional medicines, making it an important natural resource. Even more important are the roles the biome plays in the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and in maintaining biodiversity. Unless the boreal forest is used sustainably, in ways that support recovery and resilience, the consequences will be global and severe. To me, that’s what sustainability is all about: recognizing that plants, animals, people, and the Earth’s land, water, air, and climate are all interdependent. Building respect and a sense of wonder towards the natural world supports sustainable action—and I really hope that this book helps kids see the boreal forest and all its creatures for the wonders they truly are.

Check out The Keeper of Wild Words, The Boreal Forest, and all of the other wonderful books included on the 2021 list, from your local library today!