Program FAQ

The Sustainable Library Initiative’s Sustainable Libraries Certification Program (SLCP) provides library leaders with a tested, structured path forward to increase your library’s commitment to environmental stewardship, economic feasibility, and social equity.

They can’t. That’s why we have created three separate products, one for each audience.

Public Libraries

After you lay the groundwork for success (introductory presentations to your board and staff) you will survey your stakeholders and form a sustainability team. Your team will work through 12 categories that help align your efforts with the triple bottom line:

  • Organizational Commitment
  • Energy
  • Materials Management – Waste & Recycling
  • Materials Management – Purchasing
  • Transportation
  • Land Use
  • Water
  • Collective Impact
  • Social Cohesion
  • Community Resilience
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Collections

Actions within each category provide you with the opportunity to take a closer look at how things are done and/or consumed at your library and provide your team with the opportunity to think differently about how you will proceed on that issue in the future. We provide examples, inspiration, and “Pro Tips” along the way.

A final presentation is required to both help summarize the work you did for the evaluation team as well as to assist you in spreading the word locally about all you’ve accomplished through the program.

In total: 18-24 months. The first seven categories (Organizational Commitment, Energy, Materials Management – Waste & Recycling, Materials Management – Purchasing, Transportation, Land Use, and Water) should take about 12 months. The remaining categories have been completed by libraries in less than 12 months.

This can depend on the size of your library. Teams in libraries that have been certified have ranged from 4-8 members. You will want a mix of staff who work in the categories of the program so you can structure your team into committees and spread out the work.

Throughout the online product you will find links to resources, examples ,and inspiration to help you decide how to proceed at your library. You will have a “mentor,” someone who has perhaps gone through this program already or helped to design it, who can guide you along the way. There will be quarterly calls with your mentor and you can email them at any time with questions. You will also have access to a community of practice – your peers who are doing this same work – through a listserv, monthly online meet ups, bi-monthly enewsletter, and gatherings at various conferences you may be planning to attend.

This one has a two-part answer:

  • Check out our pricing chart to join the Sustainable Libraries Initiative/Sustainable Libraries Certification Program.
  • The financial expense in-house is up to you. You may find it doesn’t cost you anything as most items in the program are just asking you to think in a new way. However, you may decide to embark on projects that do have a financial impact. You get to assess that. Often you will find you are using existing funds, just in a re-directed way. Infusion of new money can come from partnerships, budget reallocation, donations, and grants. 

School Libraries

There are two parts to the certification process for school librarians.  First, you will complete the School Library Program Rubric. This rubric allows you to have a holistic understanding of your program and its strengths. You can then put those strengths to work as you complete the custom benchmarks for certification.

Benchmarks are categorized into five sections that align your efforts with the triple bottom line:

A.      Partnerships & Community Involvement

B.      Leading Beyond the Library

C.      Social Equity & Resiliency

D.      Standards & Curriculum

E.       Collections

Benchmarks within each section provide you with the opportunity to take a closer look at how things are done and/or consumed at your library and provide you with the opportunity to think differently about how you will proceed on that issue in the future. Examples and inspiration along with “Pro Tips” are provided along the way.

To support your efforts as you complete two benchmarks from each of the five sections, a team of mentors is available to help guide you through the process. You will also have access to a community of practice – your peers who are doing this same work – through monthly online meet ups and gatherings at conference.

As you complete your work, you will be submitting evidence of your progress. Reflecting on the experience and your growth is an important aspect of the certification process.  You will have an opportunity to share how the benchmarks have changed your practice and depth of program as well as the benefit to student learning.

One full school year. You will be working with a cohort of school librarians to complete the certification process in one year. Mentors will help you set pacing and encourage you along the way. If additional time is needed, your timeline may be extended. Our goal is for you to find success as you examine your practice, make intentional changes that align to the Triple Bottom Line, and improve student learning.

Staffing of school libraries looks a little different than in public and academic libraries. For that reason, this program has been designed to certify you, not the library.  We do hope that you will create a team to help you complete the certification process. Look to your community to assist. Your work completing the benchmarks will be more vibrant, much stronger, and longer lasting if you enlist help from your community. What better way to show your administrators, educators, students, parents, and community partners what your library is all about than to bring them into this process?

This one has a two-part answer:

  • Check out our pricing chart to join the Sustainable Libraries Initiative/Sustainable Libraries Certification Program.
  • The financial expense in-house is up to you. You may find it doesn’t cost you anything as most items in the program are just asking you to think in a new way. However, you may decide to embark on projects that do have a financial impact. You get to assess that. Often you will find you are using existing funds, just in a re-directed way. Infusion of new money can come from partnerships, budget reallocation, donations, and grants. 

Academic Libraries - Coming Soon!

After you lay the groundwork for success (introductory presentations to your administration and staff) you will survey your stakeholders and form a sustainability team. Your team will work through 7 categories that help align your efforts with the triple bottom line:

  • Setting the Stage
  • Campus Involvement
  • Community Engagement
  • Social Well Being & Resiliency
  • Financial Sustainability
  • Collections and Services
  • Environmental Stewardship

Actions within each category provide you with the opportunity to take a closer look at how things are done and/or consumed at your library and provide your team with the opportunity to think differently about how you will proceed on that issue in the future. We provide examples, inspiration, and “Pro Tips” along the way.

A final presentation is required to both help summarize the work you did for the evaluation team as well as to assist you in spreading the word on campus about all you’ve accomplished through the program.

In total: 12-18 months. This is suggested, but there is no ticking clock.

This can depend on the size of your library. Teams in libraries that have been certified have ranged from 4-8 members. You will want a mix of staff who work in the categories of the program so you can structure your team into committees and spread out the work.

Throughout the online product you will find links to resources, examples ,and inspiration to help you decide how to proceed at your library. You will have a “mentor,” someone who has perhaps gone through this program already or helped to design it, who can guide you along the way. There will be quarterly calls with your mentor and you can email them at any time with questions. You will also have access to a community of practice – your peers who are doing this same work – through a listserv, monthly online meet ups, bi-monthly enewsletter, and gatherings at various conferences you may be planning to attend.

This one has a two-part answer:

  • Check out our pricing chart to join the Sustainable Libraries Initiative/Sustainable Libraries Certification Program.
  • The financial expense in-house is up to you. You may find it doesn’t cost you anything as most items in the program are just asking you to think in a new way. However, you may decide to embark on projects that do have a financial impact. You get to assess that. Often you will find you are using existing funds, just in a re-directed way. Infusion of new money can come from partnerships, budget reallocation, donations, and grants. 

The Council of the New York Library Association, our Venture Investors, donors ,and some of our corporate partners have worked hard to supplement the volunteer efforts of its members and invest the early funds to get the work of this initiative off the ground, to create a professional, market-tested product the library profession has never seen or had access to before. However, a sustained initiative needs a sustained revenue to cover the on-going costs related to the program. The membership fee helps to underwrite the licensing agreements with Green Team Spirit, Library Market, and related administrative expenses of the New York Library Association.