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Library Professionals Saving The Planet

On this week’s Princh Library Blog post guest writer Anne Reddacliff, Australian librarian, shares the initiatives of the ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group to save the planet.

The group saving the planet

At ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group our aim is not just to help libraries and librarians with green initiatives but to help them save the planet! We’re a small team of library professionals from Australia but we have big goals. In this blog post we’ll share with you five things we’re doing to help save the planet and tell you what you can do to help us out.

Plastic Free July initiative

During Plastic Free July this year ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group ran a social media campaign encouraging Australian library professionals to go plastic free. Plastic Free July was started by Australian environmentalist and now author, Rebecca Prince-Ruiz. According to her book, Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters, 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year. We’re doing everything we can to decrease this number and to inspire other library professionals to do the same.

Nick Fewings

Photo by Nick Fewings

Started a blog

This year (2020) we launched our blog, ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group: Helping libraries and librarians to save the world. We’ve published four articles introducing library professionals to ideas about how to live more sustainably and how to think differently in helping the environment. Our blog covers topics like adopting a zero waste lifestyle and reducing digital pollution. It’s presented in a way that is catchy and readable but still gets our message across. We’re not just another library blog. We bring you real life solutions to help save the world!

Call for submissions

In July we sent out a call for submissions from libraries who are undertaking green initiatives and are doing sustainability well. This call was made in order to build an inspiration pool from which we can draw to encourage other libraries to take the lead and get involved in making our world a greener, healthier place. Some examples of libraries in Australia who excel at the principles of sustainability include Marrickville Library in Sydney’s Inner West which uses recycled elements and a building designed to reduce energy consumption. In Queensland, Brisbane City Libraries at Mitchelton, Holland Park and Grange libraries all have community gardens while in Victoria, Yarra Plenty Library even have a worm farm and a sustainability group that clients can join. Australian libraries are doing terrific things for the environment and from our call for submissions we hope to showcase them.

Alexander Schimmeck Vegetables

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck

Raising awareness through publishing in our national magazine

We also raise awareness of environmental issues in libraries by publishing in the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) Incite magazine. So far we’ve published articles outlining the aims of our Group and rallying library leaders to put sustainability front of mind when making decisions. We’ve also highlighted things libraries are doing well in terms of green initiatives and meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Publishing in Incite gives us a much needed opportunity to reach other library professionals and to help spread the word about how important it is to reduce, reuse and recycle, to help the environment through our actions as librarians.

Individual action

Lastly, the individual members of ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group are doing things like using bamboo toothbrushes, metal straws and beeswax wraps to reduce plastics. Some of us have also become involved in grassroots environmental activism. Writing blogs like this one we help to promote awareness of what we all can do to reduce waste, live plastic free and contribute to a greener planet.

What can you do?

So that’s five ways ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group are helping libraries and librarians to save the planet. Now here’s five ways you can help us out:

Adopt a plastic free, zero waste mindset

From your personal bathroom products to the kind of contact your library uses to cover its books, think about what you can do to reduce single use plastics. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to try. Every little bit helps to save our oceans and protect marine life.

Start a sustainability group for staff or clients at your library

Where I work at State Library of Queensland we have a staff group, the Even Greener Team who have introduced zero waste and recycling initiatives like mini desk top bins and bins for soft plastics. Rather than start your own group you might choose to join an existing library group such as IFLA’s Environment, Sustainability and Libraries Special Interest Group.

Alexander Schimmeck Save The Globe

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck


Spoken like a true librarian, a tip if you want to learn more about saving the planet is to read. Some books I can recommend from my journey with ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group are: Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters (referred to earlier), No More Rubbish Excuses: How To Reduce Your Waste and Why You Must Do It Now, How to Save The World For Free, Waste Not: Make a Big Difference by Throwing Away Less and How to Talk About Climate Change: In a Way That Makes a Difference.

Learn about the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals

Learning about the UN Sustainable Development Goals will give you a grounding from which to take action and think about ways you or your library can help achieve them. They are ambitious goals but they underpin the work that libraries across the globe are doing to make this world a better place.

Follow ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and read our blog! We’ll keep you up to date with everything you need to know about libraries and sustainability.

Let us know your ideas

And although ALIA Sustainable Libraries Group is based in Australia we’re open to hearing new ideas from around the world. Know a way that libraries can contribute to sustainability? Then contact us. Let’s help save the planet together!

If you would like to know more about library initiatives aimed at saving our planet, check out our previous post on the 5 ways libraries are helping the environment.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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