Sustaining Our Global Community by Kelley Presley

k-preseley-solar-farm-0015If you take a moment to ponder the concept of community, you begin to realize that it is a truly multi-faceted notion. There are numerous ways to define it, from the town in which you live to a group of individuals who congregate and share their love of knitting. People find and define community in many aspects of their lives. Libraries make it their mission to be acquainted with their communities and provide to them the resources, programs, and services that are needed by and are relevant to them. Libraries must always be ready to adapt to the dynamic needs of a complicated world.

Due to a number of factors including economic disparity and growing ecological concerns, communities look increasingly toward implementing sustainability practices. People are growing passionate about being more environmentally conscious, and learning how to make their homes and communities green. However, despite their desire, many are unsure of where or how to begin. A lack of needed supplies could also be a hindrance. And true to their mission, libraries have begun to find ways to bring to these communities the resources they want and need to join in this global movement.k-presely-seed-library-0020

Methods by which libraries have used to address these aspirations have been creative and unique, and not to mention wildly successful. Seed libraries have been receiving a lot of fanfare as of late, with over 300 libraries participating nationwide. Green spaces are being converted into community gardens where patrons are invited to participate in the care and cultivation of vegetables that feed needy members of the community. Workshops are being led by local experts to discuss a wide range of sustainability topics such as rainwater harvesting and organic beekeeping.

Going beyond arranging relevant programs and services, libraries are themselves beginning to adopt ecologically sound business practices as well as upgrading their buildings to environmentally-conscious standards. Simple measures like installing motion-sensor lights to more complex efforts like installing solar panels, these processes and others are being employed with more frequency. Not only does doing this furnish the library with an opportunity to serve as an example and role model for the community, but they can also use it to educate patrons regarding different sustainable building and living practices.

Libraries are not left to make these changes and navigate new ideas and sustainable practices without guidance and support. The American Library Association recently assembled the Sustainability Roundtable (SustainRT) to maintain support and direction for libraries as well as providing a forum for advocacy and conversations concerning such matters. It is a relatively new group within ALA, but its rapid growth in such a short time is a clear indication of the importance of its mission. This is only the tip of the iceberg; there are a great number of groups with the same or similar interest in sustainable communities.

Based on efforts undertaken by libraries in this country and by their largest governing organization, the gravity of creating sustainable communities is abundantly obvious, the extent of which can be felt from the smallest units of society to the greatest degree: our global community. Through innovative and enlightening programming on green practices and initiatives, libraries are not only meeting the wants/desires/needs of their local communities, they are also contributing to the viability of the global community. Practical use knowledge and hands-on experience in methods related to sustainability are essential to creating crucial change now for the sake of our future.


About the Author
Kelley Presley is a third semester MLIS student at San Jose State University. She is passionate about libraries and the role they play in our world. In her free time, she enjoys reading and photography as well as hiking and spending time with her family. She lives with her husband and son in beautiful Boulder, Colorado.