American Libraries April 2009

Be sure to check out the latest American Libraries magazine with two green library articles (A Green Library, A Greener You and Building Science 101) and a showcase of library designs – some of which use sustainable practices.

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Prepare for Earth Day!

Earth day is coming! Start thinking about what your library can do for Earth Day if you haven’t already.   Check out the Earth Day Network site for ideas including an organizers guide, earth day in a box, earth day on campus, etc. Be sure to register your event or find other events in your areas on the Earth Day 2009 site.   The Nature Conservancy also has some ideas like tree planting and online community to connect with others.  Environlink offers some suggestions like pledges and city proclamations. For school librarians, teachers.net and education world have some earth day activities and lesson plans.  Wikihow has a concise list of ideas from picking up litter to making  bird houses.

Are you in an urban setting?

Look into the idea of Urban Homesteading for your library and to educate your library patrons.  It’s the idea that even in an urban setting you can be a bit of a farmer –  from container gardening to having chickens –  thus creating a better lifestyle for yourself and your family with local, in season, healthy and cheaper choices of food.   California even has an Institute for Urban Homesteading who’s principals “preserve a slower, more intentional, more sustainable and more pleasurable way of life, rescue the lost arts of the garden, the kitchen and things done by hand and imbue everyday tasks with wonder and beauty.”

Perhaps a library could host local experts teaching workshops such as raising chickens in your backyard, beekeeping, canning, making yogurt, producing fruit and honey wines and cheese making.

Check out Fallen Fruit web site, which is attempting to map locations of  public fruit in neighborhoods around the country(public fruit is fruit that overhangs sidewalks, parking lots, streets, etc.)

Recycled Paper

As we try and switch over to recycled paper in the library, many questions and issues arise. The cost – why is it more than virgin paper? What type of recycled paper do we want to buy?  And some people say that the recycled paper jams their printers.

Here are some answers I found exploring this recycled paper topic:

High cost? think economies of scale: virgin paper mills are well established while recycled paper mills are still developing on a smaller scale.  Also,  the gathering, refining, treating (in the most e-friendly way) to produce recycled paper costs more than just creating virgin paper. And recycled paper incorporates all its costs into the product (such as alternative to disposal) and is not rewarded fiscally for its significantly lower energy and water use. Virgin paper costs receive generous government timber, energy, and water subsidies and do not incorporate responsibility or costs for the product’s eventual disposal. And the consumerism factor – if more people buy it and there is more a market for the product, more competition in the market, and companies realize this is what people want (to pay for what they value) costs will eventually go down but in the end, you get what you pay for.

Recycled paper jamming a problem? Some reasons why: a bad batch of paper, poor maintenance of copier machine, improper storage of paper (allowing moisture to affect sheets), improper handling of paper (not fanning paper out, not loading paper according to grain, not allowing paper to warm up (or cool down) to match the temperature of the copier room), the user must be sure to orient the curl of the paper in the correct direction; too much dust in a copier room can be a killer, etc.  (Info from the Federal Network of Sustainability)  Here are some other articles on this topic:  Recycled Paper The Best Choice | National Assoc of Paper Merchants | Green Purchasing at Yale

College Library – Green Blogging

Moraine Valley Community College (IL) with a Sustainability Initiative and the library’s One Book, One College program has started a blog called Green Today, Green Tomorrow.

The blog posts will include new items in the library’s collection, information about programs related to the One Book events, and items related to the campus-wide sustainability initiative. Check it out: http://ext.morainevalley.edu/green/

Are there more libraries going green and blogging? I’d love to hear about them!