Discussion topic: Sustainability and libraries


For me, the word sustainable immediately conjurs up images of recycled shopping bags, permaculture gardens, solar hot water and public transport. However there are also business definitions of sustainability, relating to the longevity or robustness of a process or product and countless more examples of the use of the word sustainable that you will be able to relate to.

Based on this definition of sustainable, we can look at sustainability of libraries a number of different ways, including:

  • The physical/environmental impact or footprint of the library building and processes
  • Robust, ongoing services that can be scaled into the future and meet client needs
  • Maintaining an educated, modern workforce that can offer contemporary library services

There’s no doubt that some libraries have been able to sustain their physical presence for many, many years. Think about examples of really old libraries you may have heard about, in Oxford, The Vatican, Venice, Coimbra, Dublin, Fez to name a few.

Over the next 2 weeks, we will be looking at sustainability and libraries here on the blog. We will be exploring some examples of environmentally sustainable library buildings, but also diving into sustainable business practices within libraries.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you or your library managers regularly review your library services to ensure that you are both meeting customer needs and ensuring that you can sustain this service into the future?
  • Do you have environmental initiatives at your library to try and reduce the use of water or electricity?
  • What sort of sustainability programs run at your library? Do you have local gardening groups using your rooms, or host lectures or workshops on sustainable topics?

Please feel free to share your stories, pictures and ideas with us – either in the comments or via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. If you have a longer story to share, please contact us to publish it as a guest post here on the blog.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2016B and tagged , , , , .


  1. When I am thinking at “Maintaining an educated, modern workforce” I am thinking that’ along with constant learning of new models of learning and adopting new platforms, I really continue to use my “old” skills’ as a former primary school librarian.
    Is empathy and emotional support a sustainable skill as a modern librarian? I believe it is. Imagine a student, approaching the information desk and not been able even to formulate what she is looking for. I need all the patience and understanding for calming her and guiding her to asking her how can I help her.
    Eight years old or Millenialls, they still need a kind human Librarian listenng to them

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