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


NYLA Sustainability Initiative with library building icon on top.

The Newsletter of the NYLA Sustainability Initiative 

Volume 2, Issue 4 | April 2018



On April 22nd, people all over the world will celebrate Earth Day by marching, planting trees, cleaning up parks and roadsides, having festivals, trying out eco-friendly products and practices, and more. But we don’t have to wait for a holiday to make our planet sustainable; every day is Earth Day!

Check out the North Country Library System (NCLS) for everyday good practice in recycling. Through a partnership with the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC), NCLS has developed a program to help strengthen library collections by encouraging member libraries to weed, while diverting discarded books from the waste stream. DANC’s own efforts include addressing solid waste management in their region, so when Paulette Roes, Library Sustainability & Outreach Consultant at NCLS, reached out to them, DANC was happy to provide funding to offset transportation costs, and to purchase recycling bins to deliver books to NCLS for de-spining and recycling.

“De-spining?” Yes, de-spining. Most recycling facilities can’t recycle books with hard covers on them, because the cover isn’t enough like paper to be broken down through the same process. That’s why NCLS employs the Book De-spiner, a machine with an internal blade that lowers and chops the spine of a book, like a guillotine. The machine features sensors, which shut the machine off any time they detect movement, like an operator’s hands. The separated spine of the book drops into a bin, and the covers and pages, which can now easily be separated, are left on a tray. The video below shows an operator de-spining books.






Custom Benchmarks for Academic Libraries have been developed and we’re are looking for 3 or 4 libraries to serve as beta testers. The goal is to begin the pilot program toward the end of May. This is a fantastic opportunity to form partnerships around sustainability starting from within the college environment and reaching out to the community at large. Provide feedback on your experience using the Benchmarks. Areas of focus include:

  • Section A: Setting the Stage
  • Section B: Campus Involvement
  • Section C: Community Engagement
  • Section D: Social Well Being & Resiliency
  • Section E: Financial Sustainability
  • Section F: Collections and Services

To volunteer as a beta tester for the NYLA-SI Academic Library Benchmarks
please send an email to nyla-si@nyla.org by April 30.


Contact Rebekkah Smith Aldrich or Matthew Bollerman, NYLA-SI co-chairs,
at nyla-si@nyla.org



Now is the perfect time to explore solar power. EBSCO is accepting applications until April 30th to receive a portion of a $100,000 pot for solar installs. Winners will be announced at ALA Annual in late June, which gives you plenty of time to submit a Public Library Construction Grant Application using the EBSCO grant as the match.

More information at www.ebsco.com/solar



  1. Little steps help bring about change. Contact your local recycling center to get the “skinny”  on recycling items. For example knowing what type of plastic products are recyclable. Someone submitted a question to the local recycling facility about recycling plastic flower pots, which as it turns out cannot be recycled. So they need to be repurposed or thrown out.
  2. Purchase items for summer reading that are either reusable or biodegradable. For example, reusable bags to distribute summer reading kits; reusable water bottles (metal not plastic); seeds and planting pots in biodegradable pots that can be planted right in the ground or in other reusable contains like ceramic and metal; pet rocks (no throwing in the library!); tokens or gift certificates from  local businesses like an ice cream parlor or pizza shops; die cut bookmarks made out of recyclable paper or cardboard rather than plastic.





CCA Training Group

Community Change Agents Cohort working together at the NYLA HQ.

CCA Training Group

Janet Scherer, Assistant Director South Huntington Public Library & Jose Hernandez, Outreach Librarian for the Patchogue-Medford Library and Mentor of the South Huntington team.


“Community Change Agents take an active role in transforming themselves, their colleagues, their institutions, and the world, to create a positive, productive, just and sustainable future.”

The Community Change Agents program moves beyond sustainable libraries to help communities become regenerative. It is collaborative not competitive, and project based.  Each team includes a librarian working with a community partner. Everyone is treated as equal partners, working on a shared initiative through community engagement and sustainable thinking.

For example, Jennifer Byrnes, a librarian at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County is partnering with Chad Rieflin, Director of Programs & Grants for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester to embed financial services in the library.  Their approach after listening to the needs of community members is that the program will not just be a financial expert handing over a “financial toolbox” and sending them on their way, but rather a more  holistic approach that helps people to help deal with underlying problems that lead to financial insecurity.  It is collaborative, not competitive and project based

Margo Gustina, Eli Guinnee, Lisa Kropp, José Hernandez, and Erica Freudenberger co-lead the program and are mentors for the partnerships on this first round, supported by Kate McCaffrey and Victor Canseco. To date there have been two meetings for this first cohort.  The first meeting at the NYLA conference in Saratoga Springs focused on Community Engagement, Systemic Problem Solving, and Sustainable Thinking.  Activities reinforced the importance of effective community engagement and having a mindset that sees the library as a heart to the community.  As we help our community reach its aspirations, we focus on empowering community members to make the change they want, and we keep in mind that our decisions are made not in a vacuum but in a community ecosystem.

At the second meeting, held at NYLA Headquarters the day before Advocacy Day in late February, the teams focused on project management and advocacy.  Groups came to the meeting with rich community aspiration data, and moved towards identifying a specific project that would make a real difference to their community.  Teams practiced advocating for their projects and started working on project management plans.   

Coming up in May, the groups will meet at the Carey Institute for Global Good to practice leading from anywhere in a group, and identifying and obtaining resources to help their projects along.  They will talk about moving from sustainability to regeneration and about becoming not just leaders, but mentors to the next sustainability leaders.  They hope that: this cohort will mentor the next cohorts within their regions and home communities, so that the principles of sustainability and regeneration can grow and expand across the state.

The other teams include: Christina Becker, Library Director, and Carman Bogle, Mayor, from Cambridge; Janet Scherer, Library Director, and Eleanora Ferrante from South Huntington; Debbie Engelhardt, Comsewogue Library Director, and Denise Driscoll, from Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson.



To sustain life on our planet, we must address the energy consumption of our buildings and homes, which are responsible for the majority of global CO2 emissions that contribute to climate change. A Zero Net Carbon building is a highly energy efficient building that produces on-site or procures enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually. In her first address, State University of New York Chancellor, Kristina Johnson, laid out an innovative plan to make the 64 campus system into a Zero Net Carbon operation. Her plan calls for all new SUNY buildings to be designed for Zero Net Carbon emissions, and switching SUNY's 2,346 existing buildings to 100 percent clean electricity. Representing 40 percent of New York’s state-owned buildings, this switch would reduce the state’s carbon footprint by 400,000 tons per year. Johnson previously served as Under Secretary of Energy during the Obama administration, and under her leadership, the Department developed an integrated Strategic Technologies Energy Plan for reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil by 75%, achieving greenhouse gas reductions of 83% by 2050, and achieving 80% low-carbon electricity by 2035.


A sustainable planet also includes way less waste. We have to disrupt the linear production-consumption-disposal system that extracts natural resources from the earth to create short-lived products that ultimately wind up in our oceans, landfills, and incinerators. We need a cyclical Zero Waste system with products and manufacturing designed to responsibly use dwindling natural resources to create things that will last, things that can be reused, repaired, and eventually recovered or recycled. This article about implementing Zero Waste practices in business can apply to any organization. Libraries that implement their own Zero Waste practices will not only save money and reduce their carbon footprint, but they’ll also pave the way for other local businesses and organizations to reduce their waste, too. The Sustainable Library Certification Program is a great tool for any organization looking to build the kind of buy-in, and implement the measurements necessary to reduce an organization’s carbon footprint.



Invitation to Online Forum Sponsored by the

ALA Special Task Force on Sustainability

In 2016-2017, the ALA Executive Board appointed a Special Task Force on Sustainability, charged with developing a white paper and recommendations for the ALA Executive Board, with the intent of increasing the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices by the Association, the profession, libraries and the communities they serve.
In their Midwinter 2018 report to the ALA Executive Board, the Task Force co-chairs noted they have focused on two questions to create a vision for the future and to translate that vision into action:
What does it look like if libraries are successful in helping create sustainable, resilient, regenerative communities?
What needs to happen, that is not already happening, to support the Association, profession and libraries realize this vision?
The Task Force on Sustainability now seeks broad input from the ALA community.  To that end, the Task Force will be holding a series of online forums targeting certain populations and capped with a general forum for those who have not had an opportunity to contribute.
The four sessions are all at the following times:  11:00am-Noon Pacific, noon-1:00pm Mountain, 1:00-2:00pm Central, 2:00-3:00pm Eastern time.

Monday, April 16: SustainRT Membership
To attend this event please register at:

Monday, April 23: Academic Library focus
To attend this event please register at: 

Thursday, April 26: Public Library focus
To attend this event please register at: 

Monday, April 30: Open Session
To attend this event please register at: 




Five members of the NYLA-SI participated in the Green Business Partnership Leaders in Sustainability series at Westchester Community College on March 16th. Rebekkah Smith Aldrich presented “Libraries: A Powerful Platform for Change” to an audience of 70 business people. Panel participants Jill Davis, Claudia Depkin, Jeremy Johannesen and Rebecca Miller shared their perspective on why they joined the NYLA-SI and how libraries are perfectly suited to influence their communities on the issues of resiliency and sustainability.

The response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive, with such comments as “Libraries are leading the way in NY State in their effort to be greener and more relevant to their communities than ever before,” to “while I knew the definition of the word sustainability, I never fully understood what it meant before today. It’s so far beyond “green” – it’s every opportunity to gain skills or knowledge, or change our actions – so we can create something that lasts,” to “Libraries rock!” Businesses and organizations in your community may not be partnering with you yet, because they don’t understand the opportunities and services your library offers. Our experience with the business leaders at this event showed that they can see their library as an effective partner in building more sustainable communities, we just have work to do in reaching out and building those relationships.

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich presents at the Green Business Partnership meeting.

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich with the other library presenters at the Green Business Partnership meeting.


Interested in having NYLA-SI come and visit your library or organization to talk about “Sustainable Thinking for Libraries”? Just ask!

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

Sustainable Thinking for the Future of Libraries
April 13, 2018 Urban Librarians Unite Conference - Brooklyn, NY
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich & Matthew Bollerman

Sustainable Thinking for the Future of Libraries
April 28, 2018 Library Trustee Institute Long Island Marriott - Uniondale, NY
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich

Youth Services & Sustainability Workshop
May 24, 2018 Mid-York Library System  Utica, NY
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich & Lisa Kropp




If you are doing something that is sustainable, use the tag #sustainablenylibraries and @nyla1890 and we will feature your library in our newsletter.



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 also available to order for $3 each. 

You can order copies here.



Support the Sustainability Initiative Fund

Your donation allows the Sustainability 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.