Having trouble viewing this email? Click here to view as a webpage.


NYLA Sustainability Initiative with library building icon on top. 

Issue 2 | February 2017


Call for Benchmarking Beta Testers

Help the New York Library Association’s Sustainability Initiative (NYLA-SI) break new ground on the path to creating sustainable libraries. Become  a beta tester for our new custom benchmarks.

NYLA-SI has worked for over a year to envision what it would actually look like to be a “sustainable library” and to develop tools to help libraries think more sustainably so that their communities thrive using the “triple bottom line” definition of sustainability: environmental stewardship, economic feasibility and social justice. 

The team found numerous resources to help  libraries improve their environmental stewardship but little to help libraries with the other two “legs of the stool”: economic feasibility and social justice. So they created their own tool, the NYLA-SI Custom Benchmarks which are standards or points of reference that a library can use to assess themselves

Now we need to test it in the real world. We are seeking volunteer libraries to work through the custom benchmarks that guide a library through a series of questions and actions designed to strengthen your library for the long haul. 

Categories include:

  • Partnerships
  • Community Involvement
  • Social Equity & Resiliency
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Collections

The beta test will run from March – June 2017 during which time testers will be asked to provide feedback on their experience using the Custom Benchmarks as they assess themselves and their library’s level of sustainable thinking.


  • Introductory calls
  • Libraries begin using the benchmarks


  • Check-in call with benchmark mentor    


  • Check-in call with benchmark mentor    


  • Check-in call with benchmark mentor    
  • Submit results of your library’s assessment
  • Provide feedback to the team (Deadline: June 19)

Throughout the four month experience questions may be submitted to the NYLA-SI Benchmarking Team who will provide support to your library in completing the assessment and effecting change in your library. 


To volunteer as a beta tester for the NYLA-SI Benchmarks, please fill out this form by February 24th, 2017:



Contact Rebekkah Smith Aldrich or Matthew Bollerman, NYLA-SI co-chairs, at


To learn more about the NYLA Sustainability Initiative check out this video:



New Collaboration Offers Leadership Opportunity for Public Libraries in New York State

The New York Library Association (NYLA), and Westchester Green Business have announced a new collaboration that will strengthen libraries and their communities for decades to come by providing a clear path forward toward environmental sustainability for participating libraries.

Through funding awarded through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities (CGC) Program, Westchester Green Business has opened access to their groundbreaking program that has helped dozens of businesses, nonprofits and the award-winning Hendrick Hudson Free Library make operational decisions that result in more sustainable, resilient futures for themselves and their communities. This collaboration helps bring to life the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries unanimously passed in 2014 by the Council of the New York Library Association.

The CGC program is a statewide initiative, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), that encourages communities to incorporate sustainability goals and principles into local decision-making, and then form partnerships to transform markets, leading to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and generation of economic development benefits.

“Participation in the certification program not only provided us the opportunity to evaluate and enhance our sustainability efforts,” said Hendrick Hudson Free Library director Jill Davis, “but it allowed us to become part of a greater movement which has created unique partnerships and educational possibilities.”

The program, Green Business Certification, provides a turnkey system to successfully integrate sustainable practices into library operations. Library leaders will learn exactly where resources are being wasted and identify opportunities to increase efficiency and save money. Proprietary performance tools are used to calculate the economic and environmental impacts of energy, travel, waste, water and refrigerants in a library, while staff surveys gauge behavioral impacts.

Dani Glaser, Westchester Green Business Program Director commented, “It is an honor to have been selected by NYLA to provide the benchmarking platform for their Sustainability Initiative. Libraries are uniquely positioned to make a significant impact influencing patrons, communities, and libraries across the nation about the importance of sustainability.”

Check out this short video: https://youtu.be/5fQBqehRL6Y to learn more about the program and its benefits for libraries from Jill Davis, the director of the award-winning Hendrick Hudson Free Library, the first library in the state to become certified under this program. She is joined by Dani Glaser, Westchester Green Business Program Director who provides introductory information about the program.

Thanks to this collaboration any public library in New York State may join this program and benefit from the 10% discount for non-profit organizations. Check out the 2017 Membership Rates and access the Membership form here: http://climatechange.westchestergov.com/green-business/westchester-green-business-certified




The Sustainability Spotlight highlights community-driven, environmentally sound, and economically responsible programs and projects in libraries and other organizations. 

You can find more Spotlights in the Archive.

Think your library is doing something that could be spotlighted? Use this form to let us know. 

Valleyview Elementary School Library Students Celebrate Arbor Day with Tree Planting

On Arbor Day in 2015, Valleyview Elementary School's (in Oneonta) second grade library classes gathered outside on a windy, snowy day to plant a tree. The Eastern Red Bud Tree was donated by the Oneonta Lowe’s and an employee of the Lowe’s Lawn and Garden Department showed the kids how to successfully plant a tree and answered their questions. Leading up to the Arbor Day planting, the second grade library classes read the book, “A Tree is Nice” by Janice May Udry and wrote about how important trees are for the world. Their writing was displayed outside the library. The kids continue to care for the tree which has grown two feet and is thriving. Librarian Mark Parmerter is planning a similar project for Arbor Day 2017. For any questions about the project, contact Mark at mparmerter@oneontacsd.org or visit the Valley View Library Media Center website.

University Heights Tool Library

The University Heights Tool Library in downtown Buffalo, NY, seeks to connect community members with tools needed for basic home improvement projects. The organization’s tagline—“Borrow and build. We provide communities with the tools they need to create the change they want”—is a nice distillation of the mission of sustainability: it empowers communities to find solutions to problems while fostering shared use and keeping down costs associated with individual ownership for expensive single-use items. Read more...


Grant Opportunities

DEC Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants 

  • More than $3 million
  • Applications due by February 28, 2017 at 3:00 PM
  • Eligible entities: not-for-profit community-based organizations in New York State

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will distribute grants to communities for projects that address environmental and public health concerns in environmental justice communities. Not-for-profit, community-based organizations are eligible to apply for Community Impact Grants. Organizations can request up to $50,000. Past projects include water and air quality monitoring, urban farming, and environmental education. See a list of past awards by clicking here. Organizations are required to have their primary office located in the affected community, serve residents in one city, town or borough, and have a total annual revenue less than $3,000,000. For more information, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/31226.html . For a complete list of guidelines contact the DEC Office of Environmental Justice at (866) 229-0497, justice@dec.ny.gov  or online at DEC's Environmental Justice web page.


DOS Countywide Resiliency Planning Grants

  • $1 million total available
  • Applications due: March 29, 2017
  • Eligible entities: upstate counties and/or not-for-profits (on behalf of an upstate county); the upstate counties that are eligible for this program are listed below:
    • Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Genesee, Greene, Hamilton, Lewis, Livingston, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, St Lawrence, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Warren, Washington, Westchester, Wyoming, Yates
  • Maximum grant award per eligible county: $250,000
  • No matching funds are required.

The New York State Department of State (DOS) is seeking applications for the Countywide Resiliency Planning Grant Program. This is a competitive funding program for the development of Countywide Resiliency Plans that primarily address climate change risks and vulnerabilities associated with: an increase in frequency and severity of storm and precipitation events; sea-level rise; storm surge; and flooding. The Countywide Resiliency Planning Grant Program is available to upstate counties in New York that were not previously covered by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. For details, see the Request for Applications (RFA) at https://www.dos.ny.gov/funding/rfa-16-lwrp-33/index.html


Get the Road Map App

A resource to get libraries started and keep them moving towards sustainability.

Copies of the Road Map booklet are available to order for $3 each. 
You can order copies here.

The Roadmap is also available as a PDF for free when you sign up for the Sustainability Initiative mailing list.
Click here to sign up for the mailing list and request a PDF of the Roadmap.

You can also download the NYLA Sustainability Road Map App for iOs devices!
(Android App coming soon!)


Support the Sustainability Initiative Fund

Your donation allows the Susatinability Initiative to continue its work:

To create leadership and provide tools to mobilize libraries to think and act sustainably.
In a way that builds awareness and consensus while inspiring action by members of the library community to own their role as sustainability leaders in their communities,
So that communities thrive, bounce back from disruption and are infused with new and better life for everyone.

All donations are 100% tax deductible.

Click here to donate. 


You don’t have to be a NYLA member to receive the SI Newsletter, but it would be great to have you join! It's so easy (click here) and we will give you more tools to advocate for your library and the sustainability of all New York State libraries.


Don’t let spam blockers make you miss your opportunity to hear about all of our upcoming opportunities. Please add nyla-sustainability@list.nyla.org to your address book so our monthly newsletters get to you first.


If you would like to subscribe to the NYLA Sustainability Initiative eNewsletter, click here.

If you would no longer like to receive the NYLA Sustainability Initiative eNewsletter, click here.