Libraries Help Save the Planet!

PC Sweeney
EveryLibrary
Published in
4 min readApr 21, 2021

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Libraries have been doing their part to do good for our planet.

Beyond their mission to share knowledge, libraries have been working to be environmentally friendly as well as to be a resource to show others how to be environmentally conscious. In their own way, libraries play a role in helping the environment since books are being reused on a daily basis by community members. Many libraries also take donations from universities, patrons, etc. which helps to give the books a new life. Beyond that, libraries have plenty of resources and well-trained staff members who care about saving the planet. When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, the library can be a great partner in implementing habits and learning about ways to be sustainable and green.

Saving Money and Reducing Carbon Footprint

Public libraries are built on a system that inherently helps out the planet while saving you money. This is due to the endless amounts of books offered on their shelves as well as the resources they have through online databases, audiobooks, and ebooks. Libraries have their own newspaper and magazine subscriptions which means library patrons can head to the library rather than ordering their own, saving on printing and paper.

Most libraries, like the New Britain Public Library, have also noticed less print materials and more electronic materials in their collection. Alongside this growing number of reading and research materials, libraries also have access to the collections at other libraries in the area and even across the nation. Requesting a book using a library’s delivery or interlibrary loan system rather than heading to buy a copy is an additional way for patrons to consciously benefit the Earth.

Library Professionals Saving the Planet

Library staff are also known to be eco-friendly professionals. The ALIA Sustainable Libraries group is a group of library professionals who are passionate about sharing tips and resources that help the environment. They are concerned about informing and educating colleagues and the community on issues of sustainability with focus in the environmental, social, and financial sustainability. While a majority of what the group involves themselves with is related to supporting and promoting research, they also have a friendly Wordpress blog in place that covers issues on sustainable practices for libraries and librarians.

The blog offers plenty of shareable content that applies to everyday life. Just recently they’ve published articles related to having a sustainable Easter as well as how to maintain sustainability throughout the COVID pandemic. Other interesting topics they cover include digital pollution, plastics, connecting with your community, and even a blog post that incorporates the Princess Bride.

Community Resources

One of the best ways to learn how to help the environment is to educate yourself about what is going on in the world and how our actions can be harmful or beneficial to the world around us. Libraries are one of the best places to go not only to save the planet but to also learn more about it and how we can play a role in keeping it healthy for years to come.

Libraries hold a wealth of information and also have connections to all types of organizations and people who are experts in their fields. The Environmental Law Institute published a report examining a dialogue on “Libraries as a Community Resource for Environmental Information” which looked at how partnerships between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local public libraries could be beneficial to the public. This report showed that many participants supported this type of collaboration as an effective way for environmental information to be disbursed to the community.

Those who participated in the dialogue also noted the importance of librarians as environmental information providers. Librarians are knowledgeable resources who are trained to navigate the information found on the internet as well as sort through information that is not as publicly available. The report touched on many of the benefits and concerns surrounding this idea but overall showed that participants understood the value of the public library when it comes to assisting the community in finding information.

Many organizations are working together on projects in efforts to create models for environmental information initiatives with the EPA. 28 EPA libraries work on making EPA documents available to the public. The ALA Task Force on the Environmental and the Special Libraries Associations’ Environment and Resource Management Division works on creating programming, training, presentations, etc. for their annual meetings and partners with other sustainability organizations to educate its members. The National Libraries of Medicine is reaching out to public libraries to collaborate on sharing environmental health information.

There are plenty of people and places working on saving the world. The library is the first place to check out whether you’re new to green living or looking to see how you can make an impact on a larger scale.

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PC Sweeney
EveryLibrary

Libraries, Politics, Sailing! EveryLibrary Political director, award winning political consultant, USCG MMC Captain