NYLA & the UAlbany G3 Team

Submitted by Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, SI Co-Chair

UAlbany School of Business G3 Program: "The future for NYLA to build a more sustainable world looks brighter than ever."

Through the Sustainability Initiative Committee (NYLA-SI) NYLA has been working to create leadership and provide tools to mobilize libraries to think sustainably.

This Spring, NYLA partnered with the University at Albany School of Business through their Going Green Globally (G3) program. This program devotes two weeks of the graduate program so that all MBA students can focus on the topic of sustainability.

"Some of the most challenging problems of the 21st century require comprehensive sustainability strategies, movement toward global opportunities, and manage in a shrinking world. Together, MBA students and organizations find ways for the clients to reduce costs, and/or enhance revenues by being sustainable." -UAlbany's G3 Program

NYLA was accepted into the program as a non-traditional "client" as we were looking for assistance not as a singular institution, as the other clients were, but to enhance the work of the NYLA Sustainability Initiative Committee which is focused on the entire New York library community.

Did you know?
When we say the  "New York Library community" we are talking about all types of libraries, housed in more than 5,400 facilities (public (756), school (4,195), academic (274) and special libraries (200)? New York's libraries have combined operating expenditures of over $2.1 billion; employ more than 31,000 New Yorkers; serve 10.6 million public library cardholders and 2.65 million students (K-12) - the potential for impact with this project is enormous when you consider those types of numbers combined with the fact that there is a library in just about every community in the state - large or small - that can be a part of creating more sustainable communities. The "demonstration" power of libraries to model best practices in sustainability for other businesses, nonprofits and residents is, to put it lightly, significant. When the G3 professors saw those numbers they were pretty excited about the potential impact their students could have by working with us.

Our team of MBA students - Dustin Bond, Daniel Jaromin, Ed Lane (whose daughter is Nicole Lane, Director  of the Gardiner Library!) Ayoola Ogunwale and Michael Saccone - had lots of questions about the library community. To help our G3 team accomplish their task, we hit the road and took them on a library tour. On Friday, April 8, a few members of NYLA staff, Geoff Kirkpatrick (Bethlehem Public Library), Rebekkah Smith Aldrich (Mid-Hudson Library System), and Matthew Bollerman (Hauppauge Public Library) took the team on a road trip to visit the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library, the Albany High School Library, Troy Public Library, Brunswick Community Library, and met with Tim Burke from the Upper Hudson Library System and Kathy Gundrum from the Capital District Library Council. The day was filled with information about the facilities different types of libraries operate in, the breadth of services libraries provide and some of opportunities and challenges libraries face as they look to tackle becoming more sustainable inside and out.

The MBA students were intrigued enough to want to know more. The initiated a survey of the NYLA membership to get some baseline data on how libraries operate. The students contributed their own money to incentivize NYLA members to fill out the survey, offering a $100 gift card to entice submissions. In less than two weeks they received close to 60 responses - not bad when you consider respondents had to pull their energy bills for the past few years to answer one of the questions!

Armed with the research they had done on the New York Library Community, the students dove into the intensive G3 experience - two weeks of 12-14-hour days of working with their team and "T-Cells" - Team Coaches and Executive Life Lines. Our team was coached by Jim Jednak, a senior vice president for Bank of America. The team attended lectures with sustainability experts from around the Capital District and had access to experts in the fields of energy conservation, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), Environmental Law and systems thinking.

The team then put together a proposal for how NYLA could proceed to fulfill their sustainability goals. At a formal presentation event in May all G3 teams presented their findings to their clients. We joined our fellow clients - the City of Saratoga Springs, the City of Albany's Department of Water and Water Supply, Palace Theater, DeCrescente Distributing Company and Mazzone Hospitality - to hear what the students had come up with.

In their presentation our team insightfully outlined the scope of libraries, some of our major challenges and identified opportunities for us to consider.

Their survey results indicate that most libraries want to be more sustainable but do not know where to start.

Did you know?

  1. LED lighting represents just 20% of lighting in our libraries
  2. Over 48% of New York's library buildings are over 60 years old and likely have a lot of work to do to become more energy efficient

The team identified three objectives for NYLA-SI to focus on:

The first two go hand-in-hand:

  1. Educate local communities about sustainable practices
  2. Apply sustainable practices to internal library operations

The team identified the significant opportunity for libraries of all types to become the community hub for promoting sustainability. Their recommendation is to use sustainability efforts, endeavors and programs as marketable publicity for libraries that can result in increased attendance at programs and usage of library resources. They also identified the potential for increase access to grant funds through a focus by libraries on sustainable issues.

The team made conservative projections about the financial impact a focused effort by libraries could have for New Yorkers. They posited that if libraries worked with NYSERDA to hold programs to educate the public about the savings that could be achieved by switching to more energy conservative lighting, LED light bulbs specifically, that in one System alone there could be upwards of $7 million impact for local households. Now that's impact!

As a bonus in this area, G3 professor, Linda Krzykowski,facilitated a meeting for NYLA, our G3 team and NYSERDA, New York State's Energy Research & Development Authority. As a result NYSERDA has a better understanding of the strong presence of libraries and the modern role that they play. NYSERDA has recognized the potential libraries provide to roll out their new community outreach program and senior program officers from NYSERDA were on hand at the presentation to initiate a partnership with NYLA - an unexpected and most welcomed development!

The third recommendation focused on NYLA's capacity to promote and assist with sustainability efforts in libraries, acknowledging that this is a BIG effort that needs concerted energy and resources devoted to it. They proposed a plan that would bolster and promote NYLA's role to build recognition and membership through the lens of sustainability.

The student's conclusions were clear and served as an exciting finale to their presentation: NYLA's Sustainability Initiative can have:

  1. A measurable impact on the community
  2. A measurable impact on the environment and
  3. A measurable impact on the economy