ALA Conference Sustainable Offerings + Tips

General tips in being sustainable traveling to the conference:


  1. Bring your own water bottle  – You can fly with it – go through security with it empty and fill up on the other side! Many airports refill stations.
  2. Bring your own coffee mug  –  Many place offering discounts for BYOM)
  3. Bring your own snacks on the plane or rail or car .. and for hotel room: snack mix, fruit, granola bars, nuts, instant oatmeal, popcorn (Usually its cheaper, better and healthier!)
  4. Try public transportation  – use BART! (more info here)
  5. When eating out try for local, sustainable, eco-friendly places  – Check out this list (see the downloadable spreadsheet) – and remember you can always ask a place about their policies!)
  6. Limit your swag and picking up promotional materials or handouts that will just be tossed. Can you access the handouts online? Do you really need extra plastic swag?  Also note, if you are flying, carrying all that material back home uses energy which really does add up if everyone were to bring back a few extra pounds.
  7. Take a break and meditate –  the Think Fit Meditation Room free for use and open Saturday and Sunday 9:00am – 5:00pm and Monday 9:00am – 2:00pm.
  8. Join the Sustainability Round Table of ALA (SustainRT) events! 



SustainRT events:

  • SustainRT Membership Meeting, Saturday 6/27/15, 1:00 – 2:30 pm (MAR – Pacific Suite E)
  • SustainRT field trip to the Prelinger Library! Meet up as the membership meeting ends 2:30pm for a 15 min walk – or meet us at the library by 3pm (301 8th Street  – near Folsom Street –
    Room 215 – MAP)
  • SustainRT Lightning RoundsMonday 6/29/2015,  1:002:30pm  (location: MCC-2012 (W))
    • Lightning Rounds Presentations:
      • Green Spaces in the Library (Lisa Ancelet – Albert B. Alkek Library, Texas State University)
      • The Human Library (Madeleine Charney – UMass Amherst Libraries)
      • Growing and Sustaining a Library Composting Program (Uta Hussong-Christian – Oregon State University Libraries & Press)
      • Zero Waste Librarian (Elena Maans – Moraine Valley Community College Library)
      • Talk Green to Me (Mindy Reed – Recycled Reads, Austin Public Library)
      • RETHINK: Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling at the MCL (Lisa Seel – Millvale Community Library)
      • Green Grant, Green Building, Green Programming (Jodi Shaw – Greenpoint Library/Brooklyn Public Library)

Composting (pizza boxes) in the Commons

My university library – the campus, the city too – does composting, which includes pizza boxes! Background: The library started a small composting project in the staff lounge about a year ago with fabulous results  of over 469 Gallons Composted (plus 110 pizza boxes) since March 31, 2014!  The success of this project lead us to consider composting library wide – with our users.Other libraries have initiated similar ideas (DU libraries, JHU Libraries)

Before we began, a waste audit was conducted this spring by our sustainability/recycling folks on campus in our busiest area, the Learning Commons, and  during the end of “dead week” and finals, when the traffic normally doubles. The results of this audit showed the recyclable/compostable materials made up 47% (by weight) and compostable materials alone made up 34% (by weight) of the waste stream that day. But before we launch into a full-blown composting program we started with a small a pilot project in the Learning Commons area, just to collect and compost PIZZA BOXES for that last week of the term. We posted signs around the library to bring them to the Info Desk. In the end we collected 72 boxes total! Next… can we do composting in the Learning Commons all term? We will start with a pilot this summer…. stay tuned!



ALA Members: Join the FREE Virtual Membership Meeting, June 4th and support sustainable libraries!

Save the DateALA Virtual meetingJuneThe Sustainability Roundtable was formed to help libraries foster resilient communities. As we wrap up our first year of existence we’re excited to report we’re introducing our very first resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries at the FREE ALA Virtual Membership Meeting on June 4th

The goals of the resolution are to inspire ALA to act as an organization to:

  • recognize the important and unique role libraries play in wider community conversations about resiliency, climate change, and a sustainable future and begin a new era of sustainable leadership in order to act on economic, environmental and socially equitable viability of choices made on behalf of the association;
  • enthusiastically encourage activities — as an association, and for its membership, library schools and state associations — to proactively apply sustainable practices in their facilities, operations, policy, technology, programming, partnerships and library school curricula; and
  • direct ALA staff, divisions and round tables to pursue sustainable choices when planning their conferences and meetings
  • actively promote best practices of sustainability through ALA publications, research and educational opportunities to reach our shared goal of vital, visible and viable libraries for the future.

The resolution was crowdsourced through the SustainRT membership building off of a successful model resolution passed by the New York Library Association! Sound like something you can get behind?    Then join us at the ALA Virtual Membership Meeting, registration is now open:

Stay in touch with SustainRT:

FREE Webinar: Finding Government Data on the Environment

Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian presents … Finding Government Data on the Environment
The Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association welcomes you to a series of webinars designed to help us all do better reference work by increasing our familiarity with government information resources, and by discovering the best strategies for navigating them.
Ann Marshall has eleven years of experience as an academic librarian and was most recently the subject liaison to the political science department at the University of Rochester. She has provided computer training and support to upstate rural public libraries as part of a Gates Foundation grant. She is co-author of “What an Experience: Library Staff Participation in Ethnographic Research” and is a former Chair of the Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) of ACRL.
Interest in sustainability has grown exponentially at colleges and universities, such that a 2009 New York Times articles announced, “Sustainability Field Booms on Campus,” noting growth at both liberal arts institutions and at community colleges. This session focuses on finding governmental data relevant to research on sustainability, and will examine tools provided by agencies such as the EPA, Department of Energy, and some selected international sources. In addition, the session will suggest strategies for answering a data question, especially when its unclear where to begin or when other sources have been exhausted. The session is offered by Ann Marshall, a former political science librarian at the University of Rochester.
We will meet together for Session #46, online on April 29 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Please RSVP for the Session by April 29 by 9:00 am using this link:

Technical requirements: We will be using collaborative software called Blackboard Collaborate. It requires that you be able to download Java onto your computer, but you do not need any special software. After you RSVP, we will send you a link that you can use to test the software. If you have any questions, please contact Lynda Kellam ( You do not need a microphone as a chat system is available in the software, but you do need speakers or headphones.

The session will be recorded and made available after the live session, linked from the NCLA GRS web page (

Book Review (Part 4/4): Ecology, Economy, Equity

Henk_300Ecology, Economy and Equity Book, Part III: Sustainable Librarianship in Practice has four sections and a lot of challenges for librarians and a section worth slowly reading, discussing and considering how to act on these ideas. The first section deals with the challenges of technology and corporate power in the library. Henk clearly states that much of the suggestions in the earlier sections are easier to accomplish than this last part where we are looking at larger system,  power issues and often things indirectly related to people’s daily lives – often overlooked are the consequences or important results of these decisions. In this section she dives into the digital library and Open Access movement to combat the expensive, exclusive, publishing behemoths (three publishing companies own 42% of all journals now!). The idea of enclosure of information is critical to understand – previously shared resources, not at prohibited costs with  barriers to access.   A simple example starts with a public university researcher, writing up their results for tenure and to share or advance their discipline, paying a commercial entity to publish it, and then the same university having to pay for access to the material. Henk also notes from the research this notion of disposable people – technological and economic barriers to access the information that is needed and should be readily available for use. An example she gives is the high toll libraries have to pay ongoing to access electronic materials from publishers on an ongoing basis – materials in the past were previously owned (perhaps in paper format). She also notes the shift from library control to these webscale ILS and discovery systems where we turn over our control and access. Companies can decide they do not want to work with a competitor and the result is we (our uses) do not get access to key journals since our ILS is not friendly with another vendor. Libraries are loosing our value added capabilities and now more of a marketer and trainer of vendor products.

The next section is on curbing corporate power. The power imbalances she already covered leds us to this section where Henk offers some ideas and considerations on how to curb this power. Awareness is a start and advocacy is important. We need to work with these companies but can we look at the “good guys” in publishing, those with more sustainable practices or the smaller companies to support. Henk offers two paths – directly confronting vendors or working through our political system, through advocacy and action; the second path is building a new system through open access or open source projects. Mandy supplies some good steps for advocacy through library organizations, nonviolent actions, and boycott ideas, giving some well known examples so check out this part of the book for more details.

The third section is on resolving the technology dilemma. Starting out she comments on what always bugs me, why aren’t people in the world paying attention to this global critical issues of climate change. Using research she explains the various forms of denial and “it’s not pc to discuss” syndrome especially found in the US. With lots of researched facts and information, she offers ideas on what we can do through library advocacy, writing and presenting on the topic, pushing our large library organizations to make some real changes. I believe we are slowly moving ahead in this area – the new Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) of ALA founded in 2013 as one such step.

The last section is on the visioning of the sustainable library. Librarians tend to be practical in nature, but creating a new vision is something we should be doing, dreaming of possibilities and actions we could take and voicing this publicly, not hiding behind “its out of my control.” I believe this is the crux of the book as a whole.

Conclusion/Action Items: This book allowed me to consider ideas I had not thought of, actions we as librarians could take, questions to start asking, processes and workflows to rethink. This book would be the perfect read for a group of librarians or for a workshops or conference or sustainability committee to share, discuss and act upon. I hope my blog posting on the content I found in the book, helps continue the dialogue and more librarians will find this book, read it and encourage others to do the same.