Public (and school) libraries are vital social centers, and should be part of all community endeavors to make the world a better place! Here are the tips I’ll be handing out to librarians here at the American Library Association conference in Boston. Many of them apply to offices (and homes) as well.

  • Encourage staff and patrons to walk or cycle to the library, and install a convenient bike rack.
  • Don’t heat or cool unused areas of a building; you can switch the heating or cooling to a lower or higher setting, or even off altogether, during holidays and weekends. Reduce the temperature by a degree or two; people are less alert in overheated rooms.
  • Use low-energy light bulbs, especially in ceiling and wall fixtures.
  • Ensure that windows can be opened easily. Install ceiling fans; they consume a fraction of the energy of air conditioners.
  • Position tables and desks by windows to make full use of natural daylight (studies show that students perform better under natural, not artificial, lighting).
  • Draft-proof doors and windows, and report any dripping faucets.
  • When computers and other equipment are not in use for a period of time, turn them off, and use energy-saving and standby modes on electronic equipment.
  • Make sure all outmoded computer equipment is reused or recycled. Go to Computer Takeback for information.
  • Set up a bulletin board–online as well as actual–where people can offer free items, put up notices about stuff they’re looking for, and announce community events.
  • Position laser printers and photocopying machines at a distance from workstations (they contain toners and solvents that staff shouldn’t breathe all day).
  • Green – literally – the library with real plants. They are good for the air and for the spirit. Increase the humidity in the office by standing plants in trays of pebbles and water.
  • Choose drinks and foods that are packaged in glass rather than plastic. Stock the kitchen with real paper cups rather than plastic or polystyrene cups and with real glasses and mugs.
  • Create a ‘green’ book collection.
  • Invite speakers to talk about local and global environmental issues.



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