York Public Library has enrolled in a national sustainability certification program designed to help libraries become more environmentally sound.
The Sustainable Library Certification Program (SLCP), a project of the Sustainable Libraries Initiative (SLI), was created by members of the New York Library Association and American Library Association as a way to structure libraries’ commitment to the triple bottom line of sustainability: being environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically feasible.
York Public Library is the second library in Maine to enroll in the national program, which asserts that libraries “play an important role in larger community conversations about resiliency, climate change, and a sustainable future. The Initiative is designed to provide the tools and resources library leaders need to incorporate sustainability as a core value in their work.”
The SLCP consists of over 100 action items—from switching to eco-friendly supplies to developing a net-zero energy plan—across twelve categories: Organizational Commitment; Energy; Materials Management: Waste & Recycling; Materials Management: Purchasing; Transportation; Land Use; Water; Collective Impact; Social Cohesion; Community Resilience; Financial Sustainability; and Collections.
Many of the action items were already in progress, but by formally enrolling in the program, “we’re holding ourselves accountable and being transparent in our commitment to fight climate change” said Sophie Smith, Assistant Director at York Public Library.
“Our goal is to bring to light the issues and solutions we can take as individuals to combat the effects of climate change, and provide our community with tools and inspiration to take action,” Smith continued.
Recently, the Town of York completed and adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) with the ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GSG) emissions 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
“Libraries, as town centers, are in a natural and unique position to model sustainable practices in their communities, and we plan to lead the charge to help our town achieve this goal,” noted Smith.
YPL has already completed an energy audit that identified energy-saving measures which would increase building efficiencies. The Library plans to launch a decarbonization project and, in addition to better weatherizing the building, will be upgrading existing heating and cooling infrastructure with a heat pump system; putting solar panels on a portion of the Library’s roof; and installing an EV charging station.
Other smaller-scale action items have also been completed. A trash audit was conducted with help from the York High School Eco Club; composting bins have been set in library staff areas; and reusable or compostable supplies are being sourced for ongoing Library programming.
The Library has created a webpage to document its sustainability journey at yorkpubliclibrary.org/sustainability.
On May 24, the Library will conclude this year’s climate program series, The Climate is Changing, and So Can You! with a final in-person event. Food Systems and Celebrations, held in the Library’s upper level from 5:30-7 PM, will be part party and part programming, a celebration of climate readiness and a practical example of how to host a sustainable, climate friendly gathering. The event will feature locally sourced light fare catered by Sundrop Cafe as well as three mini-presentations by the University of Maine Mitchell Center for Sustainability, York’s Department of Public Works, and Suzanne LePage, co-owner of the Sundrop Cafe and lecturer at WPI focusing on urban and environmental planning. Attendees are encouraged to “bring their own cups,” or “BYOC.”
For more information about sustainability initiatives or the Food Systems and Sustainability event on May 24, please visit yorkpubliclibrary.org.