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NYLA Sustainability Initiative with library building icon on top.

The Newsletter of the NYLA Sustainability Initiative 

Issue 7 | July 2017


Is your library prepared for a crisis or natural disaster? Resilient libraries help their communities recover from disruption in many ways, but resiliency demands preparation. This month we share stories about how you and your library can best prepare for disasters.



This is a short video about disaster relief and the “embedded librarian”.



Hillary Clinton spoke at the closing session of ALA Annual Conference last month. She stressed how essential libraries are to the community, including the drug abuse crisis and the role libraries play in that.  “....I know that many of you read the story this weekend of a 33-year-old young adult librarian in Philadelphia, who became trained to administer naloxone, which is the drug antidote that can help reverse heroin overdoses... She has saved six people’s lives since April…” If you weren’t able to attend the session, watch her full speech, or read the transcript.




American Libraries has launched a Sustainability in Libraries web series, exploring the library profession’s relationship to sustainability.


The NYLA Leadership & Management Section dedicated an entire issue of their online peer-reviewed journal JLAMS to the topic of providing a safe haven for New Yorkers during times of extreme disruption called The Library as Refuge.


Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, School Library Journal focused on the critical role libraries played in the aftermath.

At the New Canaan Library: (from left to right) a tech petting zoo became a charging station, kids watching a DVD in the graphic novel section, free coffee.

As described in the article, libraries are key to helping the community through a disaster. They provide a safe haven and, in many cases, are the only place with electricity, water, heat, Wi-Fi, and internet access. With large parts of their communities without power, libraries set up movie screenings and helped some teens organize a chess tournament when all the computers were filled up. Libraries also helped to gather and provide information crucial for people surviving and recovering from the disaster including information on FEMA applications and other emergency services.


New York State Comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, has been one of the most influential investor voices on climate change, taking a stand against oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, while managing the $192 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund.





Flood damage at Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, NY

Don’t wait for wait for this to happen at your library. Develop a plan today using free tools from the South Central Regional Library Council, New York State Division of Library Development, and the American Library Association. The best way to be helpful in your community is to be prepared yourself!


Host a Citizen Preparedness Course at your library. Governor Cuomo has a goal of reaching 100,000 New Yorkers through this program! What better place to access this information than at your local library? Learn more about the Citizen Preparedness Corps, and then request a training session for the public at your library.


Join Libraries step up in Times of Crisis FB group.The Libraries Step Up (in times of crisis) Facebook Group is a great resource for sharing and learning about projects that help make our communities more resilient. As the page states, "Our mission is to kick ass and save the day, library-style. We're a centralized location for collecting and disseminating information about urgent political or natural disasters' effects on libraries and library services."


Try out our Benchmark of the Month!

To give you a feel for what's involved in NYLA's Sustainable Library Certification Program, we’re kicking off a new feature we're calling "Benchmark of the Month," where we’ll highlight some of the steps you can take to help your library achieve sustainability. This month, we’re featuring a benchmark used to evaluate a library's resiliency.

Establish at least one facet of a community disaster recovery support system. (This could encompass whatever is appropriate for your community, e.g., being a warm place, providing a public telecommunications hub appropriate for a disaster, being designated a local distribution point.)

For more info on this Benchmark, and how you can apply it to make your library and your community more resilient, check out Community Resilience and the Role of the Public Library by Dan Grace and Barbara Sen.


Make a donation to the NYLA Disaster Relief Fund.






Tag us at #sustainablenylibraries @nyla1890



SI Road Trip!

We’ve been talking a lot about taking the SI on the road. Here’s a peek at what that looks like.

Canandaigua, Castleton-on-Hudson, Corning, Ithaca, Lockport, New Paltz, New York City, Queens, Stony Brook...from one end of New York to the other members of the New York Library Association’s Sustainability Initiative Committee (NYLA-SI) were out and about this spring connecting with libraries of all types, library stakeholders of all types and making new friends with like minded people.

We talked to school librarians at Questar BOCES III, we talked to academic librarians at the ENY/ACRL and SUNYLA Conferences, we talked to youth services librarians at the YSS Conference and we talked to public library directors, staff and trustees at Public Library Systems around the state.


Poster Session Photos courtesy of NYLA-SI Committee Member Roger Reyes

“Thank you for coming and energizing our group.  I am encouraged by the response!” Jen Peet Cannell, School Library System & Arts in Education Director, Questar III

We asked questions. We talked to curious librarians at poster sessions and in exhibit halls. We participated on panel discussions with sustainability leaders outside of the library profession. We listened as much as we talked. And we learned a lot.


NYLA-SI co-sponsored an event with the Queens Library: Agents of Change: The Importance of Sustainability in Public Schools, Universities and Libraries.

The event’s keynote was provided by NYLA-SI co-chairs Rebekkah Smith Aldrich and Matthew Bollerman and featured a who’s who of sustainability leadership in the largest city in the U.S. (the ninth largest city in the world for those playing along at home): New York, NY: Mark Chambers, Director, Mayor's Office of Sustainability (pictured above)
Meredith McDermott, Director of Sustainability, New York City Department of Education (the largest school system in the country) Tria Case, University Director of Sustainability and NYSolar Smart, The City University of New York
Alex Mikszewski, Energy Manager, Brooklyn Public Library System, Garrett Bergen, Associate Director of Facilities Management, New York Public Library, Tameka Pierre-Louis, Sustainability and Energy Liaison Officer, Queens Library.

The event, organized by Pierre-Louis, was designed to bring together education leaders who can have a big impact on OneNYC - New York City’s blueprint for “inclusive climate action for all New Yorkers across four key visions of Growth, Equity, Sustainability, and Resiliency.” This plan is directed towards the citywide commitment to reduce GHG 80% by 2050 with new investments in renewable energy, electric vehicles, and solid waste management that help improve air quality across the city and bring about an important shift away from carbon-intensive sources of energy.

New York is a pretty awesome state with a lot of smart people working on similar issues like we do. The NYLA-SI is working to ensure we are all going in the same direction: helping to create communities that thrive, can bounce back from disruption and are infused with new and better life for everyone.


SI team members will be at the following events. Don’t miss out on hearing the latest news on sustainability and libraries.

October 13 (Staff) & 14 (Trustees): Monroe County Library System, Rochester, NY

November 8-10: NYLA Annual Conference, Saratoga Spring, NY

Wednesday, November 8: Community Change Agents Event #1 (invitation only)

Thursday, November 9: Libraries are a Powerful Platform for Change (3:45-5:15p)

Friday, November 10: Youth Services Sustainability, Growing Our Own (9:00-10:00a)

Saturday, November 11: Show Us Your Road Map! (9:30-10:30)

Want to have the Sustainability Initiative come to your region?  Just ask!



Download the NYLA Sustainability Road Map App

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The Road Map is a resource to get libraries started and keep them moving towards sustainability.          

The Road Map 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.

Copies of the Road Map booklet are alsoo available to order for $3 each. 

You can order copies here.



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.




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