Sustainability Initiative (SI) Committee Update

Submitted by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, SI Co-Chair

New York's libraries are AWESOME! In the six months since the NYLA Sustainability Initiative Committee (NYLA-SI) got off the ground we have been diligently doing our homework, tracking some of the fantastic efforts of NYLA members through our weekly Sustainability Spotlights [] that you may have caught through NYLA's Facebook page or Twitter feed. From a library that seemingly defied the laws of physics by growing the size of their library by 77% while at the same time reducing their energy bills by 85% to libraries forming deeper connections with their community and campus through programs that make a real difference - the future is so bright we've gotta wear shades! The libraries, programs and opportunities featured through NYLA-SI's Spotlight series provide real world exemplars of libraries that are working to ensure that not only are their internal operations sustainable but that their efforts contribute to communities that thrive, bounce back from disruption and are infused with new and better life for everyone.

Alongside our scan of good things going on inside of the library community we've been just as focused on checking out what is going on outside of "libraryland." We've taken a deep dive into research to focus our energy for the coming year. We've been very fortunate to make some new friends to help us on this journey. Below is an update on three of our new sustainability friends:  

  1. One of our rock star committee members, Jill Davis, director of the Hendrick Hudson Free Library, introduced us to Westchester's Green Business Challenge (WGBC), the innovative public-private partnership between Westchester County and The Business Council of Westchester. We've connected with the administrator of the program - Green Team Spirit founder, Dani Glaser - who is helping us think through how we can help libraries take their sustainability efforts to the next level.
    Did you know? The Hendrick Hudson Free Library, winner of the Charles W. Brown, Jr. Sustainability Award for Outstanding Achievement in Outreach and Organizational Commitment, is the very first library to complete the Westchester Green Business-Certified program!
  2. Our NYLA-SI Agents of Change Team connected with Tracie Hall, Director of the U.S. Green Building Council's New York Upstate chapter to learn more about their ADVANCE program.  ADVANCE is a framework built to meet organizations and communities wherever they are on the path to sustainability and assist them along that path. Through a series of launch events and follow-through activities, community partner organizations work collaboratively with the USGBC community to advance energy, resource and health performance in the places they occupy. We're excited about the opportunity to work with the USGBC further and tap into their vast network of experts throughout New York on behalf of libraries.
  3. We met with senior program officers from the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) to learn about their new plans for awarding grant funds to communities, not just individual organization and helped them understand the critical and essential role libraries play as community educators and facilitators.
  4. Our partnership with the University at Albany School of Business's G3: Going Green Globally program, made possible thanks to the investment of our original sponsors [], proved to be an eye-opening experience for both NYLA and the MBA students involved with our project. We'd like to thank the Clifton-Park Halfmoon Library, Albany High School, Upper Hudson Library System, Troy Public Library and the Brunswick Community Library for stepping up to help the MBA students understand the world libraries - of all types - are operating in. The field trip to these libraries helped set the stage for the students to think through how libraries can make the business case for sustainable operations and serve as a community hub for information about sustainable choices. Read the full G3 Experience story here.

Our committee is certainly on a roll! All four teams have developed action plans and are on exciting paths to create leadership and provide tools to mobilize libraries to think sustainably. We've got an amazing group of NYLA leaders serving on the committee already and are pleased to welcome three new members:

  1. Eli Guinnee, Executive Director, Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System
  2. B. Maggie Foster, Technology & Job Information Librarian, Onondaga County Public Library
  3. Asia Bonacci, Head of Access and Circulation Services , Tompkins County Public Library

Want to learn more about NYLA-SI?

  1. Go to our webpage for more information.
  2. Read NYLA’s Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries.
  3. Read the Sustainability Initiative’s white paper.
  4. Read our Sustainability Spotlight articles.
  5. Watch the next NYLA eBulletin for more news as we ready ourselves for 2016 NYLA Conference sessions...

Does your library have a project that should be featured in the NYLA-SI Sustainability Spotlight? Share it!

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