In 2009, a few Library staff members who were deeply involved in the sustainability movement both on campus and beyond proposed that the UC San Diego Library have a green group of its own. Library administration agreed, and the Library Sustainability Committee was born. We currently have 7 staff members dedicated to greening the workplace and lives of the library’s 435 staff and student workers as well as promoting sustainability for all of our library users.
What are the advantages of having an officially sponsored group?
While many of us work to promote sustainability as individuals, collective action with institutional support is an ideal model for ensuring that sustainability initiatives are kept on everyone’s radar. Over the years, the membership of our group has changed but our work has continued uninterrupted.
From the beginning, the library’s administration has supported the work of our group. They haven’t always been able to give us what we want (that first year, during a time of drastic financial cutbacks, a proposal that LSC developed with a student group for LEED-EB certification for the Geisel building was tabled), but they have always given us what we need–dedicated time to work on sustainability issues, support for key projects and events, and an unwavering commitment to making sustainability a priority in the library. Sustainability is even written into the library’s mission statement.
What kinds of projects have been most successful for you?
LSC has always been a little group with big ideas. Over the years, we’ve gotten better and better at pursuing projects on a scale that our group can sustain and also developing collaborations that allow us to leverage our efforts.
Since that first LEED-EB proposal, LSC has collaborated with student groups to implement a lighting and energy use study in Geisel, as well as to obtain Green Office Certification. Geisel’s first water refill stations resulted from a collaborative project with funding provided by a student organization. The stations were such a success that the library installed one in a staff area and will add more as renovations of Geisel continue.
As the sustainability goals of the campus and the library have aligned, the campus and library are taking on some of the larger projects that our staff group envisioned. UC San Diego has committed itself wholeheartedly to sustainability. Because of campus mandates, planned renovations to Geisel’s bathrooms and the eighth floor will meet LEED-EB standards.
LSC’s primary focus is fostering green practices within the library. Our group worked with Imprints, the library’s printing vendor to test and then implement the use of 100% post-consumer recycled paper at all of the public copiers and printers in the library. We collaborate with our administrative assistants to ensure that the library orders the greenest available cleaning and office supplies whenever possible. Last year we inventoried cleaning supplies used in our staff kitchens, researched green products, then removed and safely disposed of our old supplies which have been permanently replaced by greener options.
Each year we take on a larger project (this year it is improving recycling practices within the library) and continue successful initiatives from previous years. We continually work to eliminate waste, facilitate recycling, and promote green buying practices. Each year, we create and update educational materials and sponsor a variety of events and that have become popular library traditions. Some staff favorites include a free Summertime Swap, fruit & veggie exchange, green office training that includes treats and trends, and earth week celebrations with lots of hands-on opportunities for creating green items from cleaning products to cosmetics.
Over the years, we’ve built on earlier efforts, retaining the best of what has been done, while seeking out new opportunities to green library practices and adding fresh materials and events to our green offerings.
Your group has been around for almost a decade now. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned over the years?
- Dream big and plan big, but know that if you can’t do it all right away, keep taking smaller steps toward your larger goals. Institutional support, campus collaboration, patience, and persistence will keep you on the right path and are essential for making your own efforts sustainable as you strive to create a greener world.
- Be flexible and persistent. If something isn’t feasible or isn’t working, don’t be afraid to let it go for the time and devote your energy toward areas where you can make a difference. Understand that you will be revisiting projects and possibilities and building on your successes for a long time to come.
- We need one another. Reach out for help and inspiration. Other people in the sustainability world can offer you guidance and also benefit from what you have to offer. Share your knowledge and experiences freely.
- Share your accomplishments. Let your supporters know what you’re doing. The library takes pride in LSC’s work and accomplishments and LSC is fueled by the support of our administration and staff. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without one another.
Presentations & Publications
To learn more about our beginnings and to get some important tips on starting a sustainability group of your own, check out this article written by some of our first members:
- Kim Kane & Annelise Sklar, “Greening the Mothership: Growing Environmental Sustainability Group at the University of California San Diego Library,” in Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries, ed. Maria A. Jankowska, 2014.
“Using the University of California (UC) San Diego Library’s Environmental Sustainability Group as a case study, this chapter walks readers through establishing a need for sustainability efforts within an academic library, communicating that need to the library’s administration and other stakeholders, and launching an official library group to work on those issues. It also describes sustainability activities an academic library can undertake, and the resources needed—or not—to accomplish them and measure their success. This chapter is aimed at libraries just starting to plan environmental sustainability activities, or those who want to formalize their current endeavors into their library organization.”
- From the Ground Up: Promoting Sustainability in Academic Libraries. Poster presentation. American Libraries Conference, 2014.
- Going Green Together: Promoting Sustainability & Campus Collaborations. Poster Presentation. California Association of Research Librarians, 2016.
Want to connect with us?
The easiest way to reach us is via email at: LSCUCSD@ucsd.edu
We are also working on a webpage and will have various resources posted there soon!