Book Review (Part 3/4): Ecology, Economy, Equity

Henk_300Ecology, Economy, and Equality Book Part II: Building the Sustainable Library offers 3 parts – ecology, economy and equality. Each part offers a basic overview of information on what this concept means and what libraries can do in this area, linking to a step in her assessment tool for each part. The first part on ecology discusses decarbonizing in two key areas for libraries to consider: electricity and transportation. Understanding what processes your library does that generates carbon and how much carbon, are first steps. Henk offers how to do an energy audit for your library, with ideas on understanding your processes and workflows as well as suggestions on rethinking lighting, heating, cooling, computers, and printers. Her table on lighting and energy saving on page 42 is really useful! For transportation she offers a lot of ideas for both your employees and patrons. For employees some good suggestions include flexible work hours to allow them to take public transportation, offering telecommuting options, setting up places to store bike stuff to encourage biking to work. For patrons I loved the idea of providing, on your library website, how to get to the library from various public transportation options and keep these schedules in mind when offering programs and workshops so its easy to encourage people not to drive. Bike racks and lighted passageways are other important patron options. This Ecology sections ends with suggestions on solid waste, recycling, e-waste, water usage (the number one use of water in libraries is landscaping!), and buying green.

The second part on economy tackles the concept that healthy library budgets are critical to sustainability success. These days expenses are up and budget are constantly down. The Sustainability Assessment for this section looks at the local level and overall information system changes. Diversifying funding sources (grants donors, friends) and analyzing the collection (like cost per use) are key components to consider. Henk also discusses the critical topic of long-term solutions such as supporting open access initiatives (rather than purchases overpriced materials), wise licensing decisions (learning better negotiating skills), and consortia buy-ins (save money buy sharing). Supporting the local economy whenever possible means buying local and using local vendors and will support the local economy.

The last part is on equity. Mandy discusses equity in both intergenerational – equity between generations – and intragenerational – equity between the current generations – terms. Decisions we make DO affect others both today and those in the future. She looks at equity in three areas: marginalized patrons, the library become a better employer, and changes in collection decisions. Again using her assessment tool, she offers suggestions on how to research and dive into these three areas. Reaching marginalized patrons is something everyone can do, but the second one “being a better employers” might be completely limited for some libraries. The last area in analyzing our collection decisions involves actions with protecting fair use, examining license agreements, finding new models for electronic books and right of the first sale, and protecting the right to read for all patrons.

For more information, you’ll have to get the book!

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