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#Chief learnings from ‘green’ focused presentations at ALIA National 2022

Green is the way to go: Sustainability Practises for Your Library
Dr Kasey Garrison, Dr Sabine Wardle and Dr Jane Garner – Charles Sturt University

The team, commissioned by ALIA  to work on the Greening Libraries Research project, have (and are) conducting case studies across several NSW and Victorian public libraries, with a view to collating and recommending practises that can be employed by library organisations now and expanded on in the future.

Highlighted examples include:

  • Woollahra public libraries and their Community Green Collaborations project which created a Green Spark event, delivering horticultural and permaculture information from professionals, and giving plants for free. 
  • Charles Sturt University which is officially Australia’s first carbon neutral university.
  • The group also noted that many libraries canvassed are examining the green credentials of their suppliers in more detail. 
  • Looking closer at the National Library the team noted:
    • Older buildings pose problems for sustainable refits
    • Some success with re-purposing insulation and furniture
    • Good environment management requires continuous training for staff, volunteers and contractors.
    • Canberra is leading the nation on recycling, so there is a positive mindset across the territory.
  • Looking further afield, the New York Public Library opened a rejuvenated main circulation library in June 2021. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library building was renovated with sustainability as a priority.
  • Also based in the United States, the Sustainable Libraries Initiative provides tools and resources, and promotes best practise and collaboration across all library services. To date, we do not have a similar organisation in Australia. 

Make do and mend – how we created an IFLA shortlisted Green Library
Melissa Brown, Hobsons Bay Libraries

Bearing the enviable job title of Sustainability Librarian, Melissa shared her experience of creating and continuing the Hobsons Bay EnviroCentre. The EnviroCentre is attached to the Altona Library branch and as a result of energy efficient measures put in place when the EnviroCentre opened, they have reduced emissions by a whopping 80%. 

Partnering with numerous local environmentally minded groups has enabled the centre to form a hub of contact information for residents and visitors, along with a comprehensive borrowable collection that includes technology such as draught finders, thermal cameras nature viewers. 

Greening Libraries – Environmental Sustainability through Victorian Public Libraries and beyond
Jac Torres-Gomez, Wyndham City Council, Rachel D’Arcy, Brimbank Libraries, Jessica Anderson, Goulburn Valley Libraries and Jacqueline Auhl, Hume Libraries.

This group of young library professionals provided a thoughtful and inspiring account of their work and observations of green activities across Victoria’s public libraries. They have created and maintain a special interest group with 60+ members, sharing information about all things sustainable in libraries, while focussing on the practicalities and keeping this information accessible. 

They opened with Jane Goodall famously talking about the need to act local if you want to have any positive impact at all. Exemplifying this, they produced examples of Victorian Public Libraries bringing sustainable green practises to their members:

  • Shepparton Libraries – National Tree Day Storytime where each family receives a tree to plant
  • Wyndham Seed Library – supporting biodiversity and food security while encouraging skills in domestic agriculture and seed conservation
  • Hobsons Bay EnviroCentre – as mentioned above
  • Hume Libraries – Grasslands Festival. Local artists display and can sell their work centred on the Evans Street Grasslands nature reserve. Libraries promote related collection items and members receive native grass punnets for planting

The group is eager to hear from any interested persons with ideas. They are also members of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. 

You can read more about this project at http://Greening Libraries – Environmental Sustainability Through Victorian Public Libraries and Beyond

Wyndham Seed Library

In terms of a ‘green report’ on the conference generally, I’m glad to say there were no single use plastic water bottles in sight, and the conference being held at the National Convention Centre, only a few hundred metres from the Crowne Plaza, where the majority of delegates appeared to be staying, meant we used our feet for transport. 

I did express my concern to one of the vendors who were giving away bags with pictures of cats and books, pointing out the devastating effect feral cats have on the natural environment. The vendor said he would pass my concerns on. 

By Donna Kellion, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group Committee Member


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