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NYLA Sustainability Initiative with library building icon on top. 

Issue 5 | May 2017



Don’t worry if you couldn’t attend the Community Change Agents Information Session, we’ve got you covered.

Now, you can watch the webinar!

All the information you need to learn about and apply to participate in the Community Change Agents Program is here. Application deadline is June 11th. Don’t miss out on being part of the inaugural cohort of Community Change Agents! 



Founding NYLA-SI co-creator Rebekkah Smith Aldrich writes in her Library Journal column this month about the social justice inherent in the actions taken by librarians to preserve and maintain access to climate change data ahead of the inauguration of the current administration. Read the full column here.



build a better world logo

We couldn’t have asked for a more on-the-nose summer reading theme for New York’s libraries than this year’s Build a Better World. It lands right in our sweet spot of addressing all sides of the Triple Bottom Line, and it’s ultimately the reason the Sustainability Initiative was created. (What’s the Triple Bottom Line? We’re so glad you asked! This and other questions are answered in our Glossary).

We asked readers to share their summer reading club ideas that incorporate sustainability.

Here are a few:

Where: Johnstown Public Library

Who: Valerie Rogers

What: We are planning to donate money to local animal shelters and rescues. For each hour a child reads they will be able to place a penny or nickel in an individually marked jar for one of the animal shelter or rescue facilities. We are inviting our adult patrons to donate their loose change for this project as well. At the end of the summer we will donate the monies to the facilities. 


Where: Claverack Free Library

Who: Thea Schoep

What: We're working with local engineers and teens to build small free libraries for those who live in sections of our community that have barriers to using  the library in person. 


Where: Alfred Box of Books Library

Who: Melanie Miller 

What: Lots going on that supports this theme!

We will be using activities designed by the Lunar and Planetary Institute and StarNet Libraries to engage families in "Playful Building" based on the engineering design process. This will help us move from "summer reading" to "summer learning." The activities are hands-on and will engage children, teens, and adults in problem solving, creative building, collaboration, and STEM learning throughout the summer. 

With a grant from the Captain Planet Foundation, we will also be working on a community project to revitalize our children's butterfly garden and have programs related to the importance of pollinators. We are also doing away with the competition feel of reading the most books to get a prize, and instead are asking individuals to set their own reading goal for more intrinsic reward. We are also eliminating incentive prizes, and instead having three larger raffles for which kids get tickets for the raffles by attending programs, participating in activities, etc.


Where: Northern Onondaga Public Library

Who: Kate McCaffrey

What: Planet Earth gets a lot of attention here!

NOPL at Cicero's Maker Club participants will work on a solar water heater, mini wind turbine, and a flood barrier building challenge. Our Nature Camp offerings will include "Worms: The Superheroes of Soil", "Life Cycles: Where do we fit in?" and programs on geocaching and food literacy. 

A Farmers' Market will complement our popular community garden program, called the LibraryFarm. Our "plotters" donate their time to work in our food pantry garden. Home gardeners can borrow compost passes, and the library is a CSA (community supported agriculture) drop-off site. Throughout the year, we lend items that may reduce unnecessary waste or duplication, such as kilowatt meters, air quality monitors, thermal leak detectors, and lawn games. 


Where: Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library

Who: Melinda Taormina 

What: We are offering programs to engage patrons and encourage them to think globally, seeing beyond the community, as far as space through a Planetarium Program, and learning to become better caretakers of wild animals through a NY Wildlife Program. We may create a small community of lending libraries in the towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon, freestanding and operated on a donation basis within communities. This will enable patrons without transportation to "travel" the world through books and expand their horizons. We will offer concerts and performers who will share the messages of inclusion and acceptance in a fun and entertaining manner, hopefully encouraging attendees to "pay it forward."  


Where: Suffern Free Library

Who: Jen Cohen 

What: Our teens will be collecting recyclable bottles all summer long. Besides getting credit in their summer reading logs for the recyclables, the money we collect for turning them in will be donated to a local non-profit that our teen advisory council has chosen.


Where: Voorheesville Public Library

Who: Gail Brown 

What: This year we’re feeding bodies and minds to help Build a Better World. Several years ago we did away with the little plastic incentive prizes in favor of giving out a ticket for each book read. Each ticket is worth a vote for one of three charities. Through the Friends of the Library, the funds that would have been spent on trinkets goes instead to the winning charity. This year the children have already selected their charity and all funds will go to help build a new elementary school community playground! For every book participants read and record, the Library will contribute 5 cents to the Friends of the Playground. In addition, we will be partnering with our local food pantry to donate brand new books to give to those families that participate in their school supplies backpack project.


may is bike month 

Help reduce your carbon footprint and celebrate May is National Bike Month.
May 10th is Bike to School Day. May 19th is Bike to Work Day. 

GIve this idea a spin! The Haverstraw King’s Daughters Public Library is highlighting National Bike Month with a Bicycle Rodeo where children can test their riding skills on an obstacle course, learn bike safety from the local police department, and decorate their rides. Contact Elyse Stoller for more information.  

Are you Building a Better World this summer at your library? Share your program with us!



Tag us at #sustainablenylibraries @nyla1890



SI Road Trip!

Members of the Sustainability Initiative will be on the road this spring, taking the message to where you are! Don't miss the chance to hear what "Sustainable Thinking" for libraries is all about and how you can get started at your library.! 

  • May 19: Agents of Change: Sustainability in Public Schools, Universities and Libraries Conference @ Queens Library
  • May 23: Poster Session at the ENY/ACRL Conference @ Siena College
  • June 9: Southern Tier Library System |  Registration & More Information
  • June 15: Poster Session at the SUNYLA Conference @ Stony Brook University

 *Featured Event* May 19 @ Queens Library

This conference will feature distinguished leaders of sustainability from important institutions such as the esteemed Tria Case of The City University of New York (CUNY), Meredith McDermott of the New York City Department of Education, Dr. Sharon Jaye of the Green School Alliance, Alex Mikszewski of the Brooklyn Public Library, and Garrett Bergen of the New York Public Library. They will be sharing the amazing things they are doing to help lower their carbon footprint as a means to support the Mayor’s “80x50 Plan.” Special guest, Mark Chambers, the Director of Sustainability, from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, will be speaking about the City’s ongoing efforts to bring about solutions to the climate crisis. The event will be moderated by the Queens Library’s Sustainability Officer, Tameka Pierre-Louis, Assoc. AIA.

Each “Agent of Change” will be sharing presentations on what their respective institutions have actively been doing to support combating climate change, while raising awareness among their staff and local communities. Although the theme of the event is centered upon the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #16, the overarching goal of the program is to underscore how sustainability is not only tied to our business operations and how we manage our buildings but how we as educational institutions may advance solutions that are rooted in social and economic justice by leading the charge in promoting eco-literacy to help transform the dialogue on climate change denial. There has never been a more critical time to take a stand. “To change everything, it takes everyone!” We look forward to seeing you there.
The event is free to the public and will take place on May 19, 2017 at the Flushing Community Library auditorium. Please register here.

Want to have the Sustainability Initiative come to your region?  

Contact nyla-si@nyla.org for more information.



Download the NYLA Sustainability Road Map App

app store logo          play store logo

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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