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It Ain’t Easy Being Green…Or is It?: Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Programs at Your Library Desiree Baron Vancouver Public Library Washington Library Association.

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Presentation on theme: "It Ain’t Easy Being Green…Or is It?: Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Programs at Your Library Desiree Baron Vancouver Public Library Washington Library Association."— Presentation transcript:

1 It Ain’t Easy Being Green…Or is It?: Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Programs at Your Library Desiree Baron Vancouver Public Library Washington Library Association Conference April 17, 2015

2 Vancouver Context: Greenest City Action Plan In 2011, the city of Vancouver, Canada adopted the ambitious goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by the year 2020. The Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) addresses key change areas : green economy, climate leadership, transportation, green buildings, zero waste and access to nature

3 Vancouver Public Library Funded by the City of Vancouver One of the largest library systems in Canada Central Branch plus 20 community branches across the city 78% of Vancouverites use the library 428,000 active library card holders

4 Sustainability in Libraries The ALA Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) is a professional forum within the American Library Association. Plans to introduce a resolution at ALA in June Membership is $10/year Check out their resources on the ALA website

5 Sustainability in Libraries Excerpts from the Resolution: “Resolved, that the American Library Association, on behalf of its members, recognizes the important role libraries can play in larger community conversation about resiliency, climate change, and a sustainable future; and be it further

6 Sustainability in Libraries “Resolved, that the American Library Association enthusiastically encourages activities by its membership – and itself – to be proactive in their application of sustainable thinking in the areas of their facilities, operations, policy, technology, programming and partnerships”

7 Vancouver’ Greenest City Action Plan & VPL As a City facility, Vancouver Public Library is part of the City of Vancouver’s wide-ranging effort to prepare the city of Vancouver for population growth and the effects of climate change This presentation will take you through our Library’s efforts of the past couple of years to support the GCAP through our strategic plan I will speak mostly about programming for patrons but will share our programs for staff as well

8 GCAP and the Library

9 VPL Sustainability Goals 2013-2015 – A couple of strategic initiatives addressed sustainability at VPL in our formal strategic plan the last couple of years – Now operationalized in 2 areas 1.Programming 2.Green Operations

10 VPL Sustainability Goals 2013-2015 – Identify and work with partners in the community to deliver sustainability-based programs – Green buildings and operations, zero waste efforts and recycling – Sustainability Working Group with staff members across many departments at VPL – Staff Education and Awareness programs

11 Why Sustainability-Based Programming? According to researcher and librarian Kathryn Miller – A public library can be a community’s resource for understanding how their choices in everyday life can affect the environment. – Libraries serve people who can directly affect change…we serve everyone! – Environmental Literacy is a part of information literacy... It is the ability to identify a sustainable choice and make that choice.

12 Sustainability Streams in Libraries 4 streams: Green Buildings and Design Digital Collections Deselection of Library Materials and Waste Products Sustainability-Based Programming

13 Sustainability Streams in Public Libraries 1) Green Buildings LEED gold minimum for new construction (e.g. Terry Salman Branch, Mount Pleasant Branch) Green roofs – here is our Central Branch Mary M.Carr’s “The Green Library Planner: What Every Librarian Needs to Know” published by Scarecrow Press

14 Sustainability Streams in Public Libraries 2) Digital Collections – – Digital formats – no physical wear and tear on library materials, facilitates printing on demand – Libraries increasingly investing in digital formats For some, ONLY e-content such as the Bexar County Digital Library in Texas – Digital special collections, for example, Vancouver Public Library’s West End Memories oral histories project

15 Sustainability Streams in Public Libraries 3) Deselection and Disposal of Library Materials and Waste Management: – VPL has ongoing book sales of its discarded library books, CDs and DVDs. We have special ones at our Central Branch. – We have a special arrangement with daycares and children’s facilities to purchase boxes of used childrens’ materials for about $10.00 per box – All of our printers have double-sided printing as a default

16 Sustainability Streams in Public Libraries 4) Programs in Sustainability to teach and inform Focus on conservation of Water, Energy and Resources Recycling and Repurposing Local Agriculture & Agricultural Education Partnerships with established “green” organizations

17 Sustainability Programs Affects everyone! Can motivate people to make small but meaningful changes in their everyday lives 2 areas of sustainability-based programs at VPL: – For Patrons – For Staff

18 Why sustainability-based programs? Adds new dimensions (place, community) to traditional library programs Expands or builds new partnerships in the community Reaches new patrons Demonstrates our commitment to the stewardship of our land and resources Provides an opportunity for other funding

19 VPL Program Partners City of Vancouver Sustainability Department Village Vancouver Transition Society Cedar Cottage Food Network Hives for Humanity Climate Reality Project

20 Local Agriculture in Vancouver There has been tremendous growth in local and sustainable food in Vancouver, including: 4,166 community garden plots 12 new farmers markets North America’s largest urban orchard

21 Let’s Learn About Honeybees

22 Native Edibles


24 Seed Lending Libraries Patrons can borrow seeds from their library, to grow their garden of fresh food. Offered at Vancouver Public Library’s Kensington Branch and Carnegie Branches


26 Local Agriculture at other Libraries Providing learning opportunities on sustainability and supporting local foods and artisans Wilmington Memorial Public Library (MA)– CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program tied in with book lending; patrons pick up book selections along with their produce Library Farm – Northern Onandaga Public Library (New York) – patrons can “check out” plots of land for a garden

27 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Recycled books and Library Materials “Don’t Throw Out that Calendar” – Calendars used to make decorative paper ornaments Recycled Book Art Contest

28 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Climate Reality Project Partnership program – no speaker costs Several branches hosted speakers from Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Speakers trained to raise awareness about global warming

29 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Literature-Based Programs Honey, Hives and Poetry in the City – food and poetry, featuring Rachel Rose, Poet Laureate of Vancouver Common Threads: Eco Art – Weaving using invasive species of plants

30 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Film-Based Programs “Growing Cities” – a film screening of the film about people challenging the way America grows and distributes its food Q&A discussion follows the screening moderated with members of the Vancouver Urban Farming Society

31 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Partnership Programs with institutions and businesses Tips for Green Home Renovations – Fortis BC and Canadian Home Builder’s Association of BC Living Building Challenge - International Living Future Institute Rethink Recycling – Product Care Association Planet Protector Esmeralda – children’s program about recycling – DreamRider Theatre Productions

32 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Partnership with businesses: – Homesteaders’ Emporium – a store specializing in products for urban homesteading Do-It-Yourself Green Cleaners – laundry and dish detergents Basic Fresh Cheese – cheesemaking at home

33 Greenest City Programs 2013-2015 Kill-A-Watt voltage meters – VPL loans electric meters for patrons to borrow. Measures how much power household appliances are actually using Makes you aware of energy conservation

34 Small Group Discussion – Let’s Talk! What sustainability- based programs have you done at your library? What community organizations can you partner with?

35 Programming Calendar Aligning programming with relevant environmental dates e.g. Earth Day Bike Month (June) World Rivers Day (Last Sunday in September) International Day of Climate Action (October 24 ) Buy Nothing Day (usually held on Black Friday)

36 Possible Greenest City Programs Other programs to explore in the future “Create Memories, not Garbage” – a seasonal program aimed to reduce holiday season waste Bike Maintenance Basics Workshops Backyard Chickens 101 – In many neighbourhoods in Vancouver, people can keep 4 hens (no roosters) in their backyard!

37 Next Steps How can we position the library in local sustainability initiatives? How will we find resources to move these initiatives forward? What kind of investment do we need to make? How do we make room for this work?

38 What worked? Our patrons were wildly enthusiastic about the programs, all of them were highly rated In feedback forms, we were asked for “more” “As a result of attending this program, do you feel more connected to your community/city?” (80.4% said they agree or strongly agree). Promotion of programs through the City of Vancouver’s promotional streams

39 What didn’t work PowerPoint versus hands-on demo for gardening events – make expectations clear! Juggling competing priorities – How many programs would be enough? – Book-based programs versus sustainability programs – do we “stick to our knitting”? i.e. How do we discriminate between programs we should offer and ones that are more appropriate for community centres?

40 Readers’ Advisory and Book Sources Displays – tie in collections with sustainability program Make sure to check out Booklists’s Top 10 Books on Sustainability Keep an eye out for New Society Publishers - books to help “build an ecologically sustainable and just society”.

41 What We Try to Make Work Identifying community experts – found that our partners are really helpful here Compensation of community experts – Lots of knowledge because they are passionate about the topic – For many presenters, it’s their livelihood Honorarium ($50 CAD) vs. a set fee What is “reasonable”?

42 Staff Programs at VPL Sustainability Working Group – representatives from all classifications - develop local sustainability initiatives and demonstrate green leadership. Energy Champions Program – designated staff at each locations roll out City-wide initiatives to promote energy conservation – Examples of initiatives: National Sweater Day Contest to promote lowering the thermostat Earth Hour Suggestions - $100 incentives towards staff party funds

43 Staff Programs cont’d. Green Transportation Pedal Pushers biking program - support current cyclists and to inspire more library staff to cycle to work by strengthening VPL’s cycling resources and community. BC Commuter Challenge - Participants walk, cycle, take transit, ride share or work from home to compete for prizes and incentives

44 Staff Programs cont’d. Energy-tips are displayed on each phone in the morning

45 Staff Programs cont’d. Zero Waste disposal systems for staff (and public), no standalone garbage cans in offices Separate small closed bins for food and other organic waste

46 Small Group Discussion – Let’s Talk! If you can pick ONE eco-friendly program to try at your library, what would it be?

47 The work continues... Build on existing partnerships Identify new potential partners with sustainability-based organizations in our communities Assess and monitor patron interest and feedback from new sustainability programs Promote and market VPL’s work in environmental literacy by continuing to support sustainability programming and initiatives

48 Resources ALA Sustainability Roundtable – check out their Facebook page and resources Vancouver Public Library – City of Vancouver – Greenest City Newsletter and the Greenest City Action Plan - vancouver Transition Movement –

49 Questions? For more information about Vancouver Public Library’s sustainability-based programs, please contact: Desiree Baron Vancouver Public Library 604-606-2766

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