It’s Green Libraries Week! 7 ideas to make your library more eco-friendly
This year’s Libraries Week (2-8 October) is going “Green”. Organised by the library and information association, CILIP, libraries across the UK are encouraged to showcase and celebrate the surprising and innovative work they are doing with a focus on sustainability and climate change. As part of the annual showcase, libraries are invited to add their week of activities to an interactive map.
With libraries at the heart of communities, there’s no better place to lead by example. And as a technology provider to libraries around the world, we’ve seen some fantastic initiatives creating a positive impact on the environment and the people within it.
Here are 7 examples of how libraries are contributing to climate change efforts:
1. Environmental awareness events (like Green Libraries Week!)
Hosting awareness days, weeks or even activities across a whole month devoted to tackling climate change can help demonstrate your commitment as a service. This is also a great opportunity to partner with local businesses to deliver impactful initiatives throughout the community.
As well as Libraries Week, here are some other upcoming awareness events to think about (be sure to make use of social media toolkits!).
2. Green book clubs
Starting a book club that focuses on books about environmental topics is a great way to educate and inspire your patrons. This doesn’t need to be limited to scientific research documents. Readers can be engaged by environmental poetry, biographies or the rapidly growing climate fiction genre, or “Cli-Fi” as it’s also known. Think Women’s Prize 2023 shortlisted Pod by Laline Paull.
Some book clubs have even partnered with universities to support student research on just how much reading groups are encouraging people to take environmental action. Check out the free online ‘Read for Action’ book club offered by the University of Virginia in partnership with the United Nations. They’ve been busy connecting readers, authors, literary scholars, researchers and humanitarian experts from around the world.
3. The Green Libraries Partnership
In February 2022, CILIP announced the Arts Council England funded Green Libraries Partnership; a multiyear research and development programme to enable public libraries in England to address Environmental Responsibility.
Here’s a recent recording of the first Green Libraries webinar discussing findings from the partnership so far and examples of the work that has taken place across libraries this year. D-Tech International is headquartered in Suffolk, UK, so we’re particularly proud to see the pioneering work of Suffolk Libraries highlighted in this webinar. Have a watch to see how they are helping to reduce the 4.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions produced across our county through workforce management and partnership initiatives such as Wild Reads.
4. Eco-friendly suppliers
Along with switching to eco-friendly cleaning supplies and paper products made from recycled materials, it’s important to ensure all your suppliers are committed to environmentally responsible practices. At D-Tech International, our remote support capabilities (where on-site support is not required), have resulted in a reduction of 1.6 tonnes of carbon emissions based on a calculation of 11,387 miles we have saved in travel. This brings us to a projected annual saving of close to 9 tonnes of CO2 emissions across our UK operations alone. This is a commitment we are proud to make as a sustainable technology supplier to our library partners, and as part of their climate change priorities.
5. Carbon conscious workforce
If the library is the heart of the community, then its workforce is what makes the heart beat. We’re seeing more and more libraries embed their climate change commitment through a supported workforce. Make the most of opportunities to upskill staff and volunteers so they are part of your environmental change efforts. Some libraries have written environmental responsibilities into job descriptions, for example, creating an internal sustainability responsibility team to work together on initiatives and ensure everyone in the library is playing their part.
6. Climate change teaching resources
From producing a green curriculum for educators to use in schools to hosting a series of workshops for people of all ages in the community, there are plenty of ways to share knowledge on climate change and its effects on the planet. Hampshire Libraries has been praised as the only UK library to be longlisted in the Green Libraries and Grand Scale Projects section for the IFLA Green Libraries Award for their extensive actions to create a more sustainable future. One particular initiative to note is its ‘Festival of Climate Change’, introduced this year with over 40 free events and workshops for library users of all ages.
7. Climate-friendly renovations
Energy renovations are at the top of the agenda for many libraries around the world. Vietnamese-German University Library, Vietnam, which was recently commended with an IFLA Green Library Award for its impressive design, featuring a passive cooling system to reduce emissions, save energy, save operating and maintenance costs and improve the health of users. We’re also seeing a number of libraries temporarily close in the UK to undergo energy-saving renovations. Peckham Library reopened this summer following a £1.5 million refurbishment to make it more environmentally friendly. This included a new low-carbon heating, cooling, and ventilation system, roof and window repairs and new LED lighting to improve lighting levels and save money. Similarly, Malton Library in North Yorkshire, closed earlier this year to replace gas-fired heating with electric air source heat pumps within the building, estimating an annual saving of 5,039 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide emissions.
As innovators of library technology for over 20 years, D-Tech International is always operating at the cutting-edge to develop the next generation of enhancements – speak to one of our experienced and friendly team to find out how new technologies could transform your patron experience.