INSS – social sustainabilty blog, resources, conferences and more

LongLogo  The Integrated Network for Social Sustainability  – funded by the National Science Foundation – focuses on the social aspects of sustainability with a particular focus on engineering and its allied professions. Their website is a community of practice of sorts, with a goal to connect similar minded people, to create dialogue and share resources and ideas. INSS has hosted annual meetings since 2013 and often in several locations:  Lansing, MI; Phoenix, AZ, Bend, OR; Charlotte, NC; and London. Those interested in joining and finding others to explore social sustainability issues with you can sign up for free.  The resources page includes INSS member publications, annotated bibliography of resources, employment opportunities and conference information.  You can subscribe to their blog via email and follow them on twitter!

Survey for seed lending libraries!

From a library listserv, well worth passing on… if you are a seed lending library, please fill out Emily’s survey!

My name is Emily Roberson, and I am an undergraduate student at the University of South Dakota.  For my senior thesis, I am working on a project involving seed libraries! My project is entitled “Do Seed Libraries Help Provide Healthy Food for Low-Income Americans?,” and I need a little bit of your help to complete part of it.  I have set up a survey for people who run seed libraries in the United States.  It has 41 questions and should take no longer than 20 minutes.  Additionally, every seed library that completes the survey will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 Seed Savers gift card! Please follow the link to take the survey through Google Forms:   I appreciate the time you put in to help my project! If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at Emily.Roberson (at)  Some questions, especially concerning confidentiality, might be answered on the first page of the survey where I have provided more detailed information.

Save Seed Sharing Petition

Many libraries now host seed lending libraries – a great way to share seeds and keep the seed diversity and food security.  But many states now have laws that are shutting down seed lending libraries!  These laws  were created to protect farmers from unscrupulous seed dealers who might otherwise sell seed that was not as labelled  but are being applied to these (library) voluntary seed exchanges as if they were commercial businesses.

The national Save Seed Sharing Campaign, the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC), will be lobbying for an amendment to the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL) which will be updated at the Association of American Seed Control Officials’ (AASCO) annual meeting this July.  The proposed amendment will ask that seed libraries be exempt from commercial seed law and be allowed to share locally saved seeds.

Please consider signing this petition in support of seed libraries and sharing the link with others.

Film Series @ your library

Attending the ALA conference, specifically at some SustainRT events (more on that soon!) a number of people were discussing how to educate their communities about sustainable issues and the idea of films popped up a few times. I had the pleasure during my time at UNCG Libraries to work with Sarah Dorsey (read more about it in this book chapter) who created and ran the Sustainable Film and Discussion series on campus (some are listed films here, I need to update it though!) She would coordinate one a month during the semester,  find campus or town “experts” to facilitate a discussion post film to discuss and consider how to apply the knowledge we just learned to our local community. Many times faculty would require or extra credit their class to attend too. Fantastic idea, brings people together from various disciplines (campus and community) and offers a venue to educate and discuss!

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!