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Greening Our Libraries

Submitted by Daniel A. Freeman on November 19, 2008 - 12:34pm

Last week, you may have read Tom Peters’ post on the new, green Mancos Public Library in Colorado.  It’s very exciting to see libraries and other institutions around the country making a concerted effort to build green—we get to watch the future of technology, libraries and architecture unite right before our eyes. 

While it’s inspiring to see these new buildings springing up, it is important to remember that it takes people to get there. The exciting developments in places like Mancos cannot be an excuse for complacency—librarians must take the greening of our profession into our own hands through action and advocacy. For every librarian in a new, green building, there are dozens of us still stuck in older buildings using up financial and ecological resources, and usually with no plans for a new building.

The good news is that regardless of the size of your library or its financial situation, there are a lot of simple things you can do to make your library greener and to save money. You can find most of what you need at Green Libraries, a fantastic site devoted to helping librarians everywhere go green. There’s a comprehensive list of green libraries as well as a page with green building resources, green library resources and other helpful websites.

If a new building or a major change in your library’s infrastructure is out of the question (as it is for most of us), there is still plenty that you can do. Co-op America has a page on how to “Green Your Office in Ten Easy Steps”, while Planet Green offers these simple tips on Going Green at Work. A blog called Ecopreneurist has an excellent guide to Green Office Supplies that even includes green office furniture.

The bottom line is that as librarians, we have a lot of freedom to take the small steps needed to green our buildings and our profession as a whole. Unlike people in a corporate environment, whose every idea must travel through a complex hierarchy, we tend to work with smaller groups where simple ideas can be implemented quickly. We are already seeing significant greening in the library world; with just a little initiative we can see a lot more.