The Sustainability Academy Library: One Part of the Whole

Submitted by Jennifer Ferriss.

We believe that by teaching students to be advocates both for the environment, for the local economy and for social equity and justice that we can build a future that is sustainable and desirable.” Brian Williams, Sustainability Academy. ( Williams, Jamie. (2012, November 8). The Skinny Pancake and The Sustainability Academy. Retrieved from

In 2008, the Burlington (VT) School Board voted to create the Lawrence Barnes Elementary, the nation’s first K-5 magnet school with a sustainability theme.  The Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes is the result of a five-year collaboration between Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project and the Burlington School District.  Shelburne Farms’ Education for Sustainability (EFS) model uses a school-wide approach.  EFS is designed to help schools use sustainability as an integrating context for curriculum, community partnerships, and campus practices.

The library is just one part of the whole.  According to the library website, the library supports the 3 pillars of sustainability:




The whole school uses geothermal energy to heat and cool, and solar panels to power the building.  School meals are part of the Burlington School Food project - where local foods are served daily.  Each classroom has a raised garden bed for flowers and vegetables and the community garden provides herbs and fruit.  Composting and recycling efforts have been gained the campus recognition; outdoor education and a robust wellness and fitness program round out some of the school-wide efforts.

For more info, visit the Library at the Sustainability Acadmey's website:


Library mission statement poster. Promote love of reading. Hold true to the sustainability focus and ethics of our school. Represent diversity in our library resources. Provide staff, students, and parents with the best resources possible. Support student learning and interest in any way needed. Ensure that all students are effective users of ideas and information. Give students a strong foundation in technology use. ​



The Sustainability Spotlight is a weekly series that highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. You can find more projects in the Sustainability Spotlight Archive or visit NYLA's Sustainability Initiative to learn more about how you can get started with sustainability in your library.