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NYLA Sustainability Initiative with library building icon on top.

The Newsletter of the NYLA Sustainability Initiative 

Issue 12 | December 2017



With Gratitude

With the holiday season upon us, members of the Sustainability Initiative would like to express our gratitude to you, our readers. The SI has been around for less than three years, but in that time we’ve done some amazing work: published the Road Map to Sustainability to set libraries along the right path, kicked off the Community Change Agents training which will create sustainability leaders in five libraries around the state, developed the Sustainable Library Certification Program via which libraries can benchmark their actions against best practice and get noticed for their work, and encouraged library staff at all levels understand and put into action what it means to use a whole systems thinking approach to being sustainable on the ground. We’ve had interest from several other state library associations and Library Journal regularly features a column and stories on issues of sustainability. We couldn’t have done this without you! Thank you for coming out to conference sessions, reading our email, and creating a buzz about sustainable libraries and how they support their local communities!


Libraries Lend Business a hand

Did your library support local businesses by participating in Small Business Saturday on November 25th like the Palmyra Community Library did? Library Director Patricia Baynes said the schwag was great, patrons appreciated their efforts on behalf of businesses, and they will definitely do it again. Don’t miss the opportunity to be a champion for local businesses every day, and especially on the next Small Business Saturday on November 24, 2018.

Palmyra Community Library on Small Business Saturday 2017


Give a Gift to Your Future Community

Is there a Rotary Club in your community? If so, 2018 is the year for you to reach out. Rotary International’s theme for the year is right in our wheelhouse, Rotary: Making a Difference. Rotary President Ian Riseley has challenged every Rotarian to plant a tree by Earth Day, April 22, 2018. What better way to support your local club then by helping them support your local environment? Contact the New York State Tree Nursery to order low-cost seedlings, ready for planting. Seedlings are available to order in January, so don’t let the moss grow on this idea! Visit Rotary’s Tree Planting Ideas for inspiration. Even if there is no local Rotary Club, your library can partner with schools, local government, or the garden club to help your community meet this challenge. Your future community will love you for it.

Balsam Fir seedlings from the New York State Tree Nursery


How Waiving Fines Can Help Your Community

The Rochester Public Library is a member of a collaborative community initiative to overcome poverty in the city of Rochester and Monroe County, the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI). In 2015 the City of Rochester was ranked first on a list of similarly-sized cities for “extreme poverty.” This means the city has more people living at less than half the federal poverty level than any other similarly-sized city in the United States. It is the only city of its size where slightly more than half of children live in poverty. RMAPI’s vision is that every child and family will have the opportunity to live in a stable environment where the promise of economic mobility is a reality. Their goal is to reduce poverty in the region by 15% in 5 years, 30% in 10 years and 50% over the next 15 years. This initiative has involved the efforts and input of nearly 1,000 people in the region, including more than 200 volunteers on committees and workgroups. Importantly, there is significant emphasis placed on the participation of individuals impacted by poverty. The group is an excellent example of a “collective impact initiative.” Many activities will be necessary to address the themes the group has identified: the need for community building, and to address structural racism and poverty-induced trauma. The library has had one of the most visible wins in this effort so far, it was awarded the 2017 Joseph F. Shubert Library Excellence Award for its fines elimination pilot program.

If abolishing fines seems too drastic, follow the lead of New York City’s 3 library systems by doing a one day amnesty on all blocked children’s cards.


Conference Recap

NYLA Conference 2017 was a busy and enlightening time for libraryland folks who are interested in sustainability! We’d like to thank everyone who came out to a session or stopped by our booth on the trade show floor.

We kicked off the first cohort of the Community Change Agent program. Five teams, made up of a library representative and their community partner, attended their first of four day-long sessions over the coming year to begin their work of change agentry. These teams are developing their ideas for how to be catalysts of positive change in their communities. Partners include representatives from a local hospital, a consumer credit counselor, a PTA president, literacy volunteers, and a mayor. The teams will next gather together in Albany the day before Library Advocacy Day (2/28/2017) to fine tune their project plans, learn from each other and get inspired for the work ahead.

Community Change Agents 2017

In partnership with the Youth Services Section we had a standing-room only crowd for  “Sustainability and Youth Services: Grow Your Own!” presented by Lisa Kropp, School Library Journal writer, NYLA-SI co-creator, assistant director of the Lindenhurst Memorial Library, and “a forever children’s librarian,” and SI co-chair Rebekkah Smith Aldrich to explore the massive potential for Youth Services Departments to play a vital role in helping their library be a leader in creating sustainable, resilient communities.

Matthew Bollerman and Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, co-chairs of the Sustainability Initiative Committee provided an introduction to “sustainable thinking” at the “Libraries: A Powerful Platform for Change” program, and made an effective case for why this is quickly becoming one of the hottest strategies today for inspiring your community, school or administration to invest in your library.  Big thanks to the sponsor of this event, the Leadership and Management Section, as well as our co-sponsors: Public Libraries Section, Ethnic Services Round Table & Intellectual Freedom Round Table.

Our final program was a focus group to get real world feedback on the Road Map to Sustainability publication and to learn more about what the field needs to help them on their way to thinking more sustainably about the future of their library and, most importantly, their community.

Local SI Action

Syracuse Area SI Meet Up: Modeled after the NYLA Sustainability Initiative, three members of the SI – Kate McCaffrey, Maggie Foster and Scott Kushner - decided to initiate a local version for the Onondaga County Public Library system.

We had our first meeting in early October with 12 libraries represented. As a first step, we developed a questionnaire to ask each library in the system what type of practices are already in place which included anything from recycling to community gardens. It has been interesting to see things people are doing that fall under the umbrella of this initiative.

Our next meeting is on December 13. We will discuss the results of the surveys/interviews. The next step will be to look at list of possible initiatives, which may include identifying “green products,” establishing a list of local speakers and program presenters, and developing ideas for construction grant projects that improve energy efficiency. 



Join the Sustainable Library Certification Program!

The movement starts now. Be the first on your block to join the Sustainable Library Certification Program. Take advantage of reduced 2017 registration pricing by enrolling before 3/31/2018.

The SLCP is a cutting-edge, one-of-a-kind benchmarking system which helps you position your library as a community leader, helping to make the world a better place while proving that libraries are a smart investment for our future.

The program will lead your library’s administration, board, and staff through a series of activities that result in the creation of an organizational culture in your library that will position the library to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable, resilient, and regenerative community.

A recording of the introductory webinar is now available on  NYLA's YouTube Channel. Read the press release and FAQs about the program, talk to your administration and board, then join the program and get on your way to being a Certified Sustainable Library. Ten libraries have already signed up and three more are just about there.



Tag us at #sustainablenylibraries @nyla1890



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 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.



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