Published on October 31, 2022
The Sustainable Libraries Initiative is pleased to announce that we have certified our first library system through the Sustainable Library Certification Program. The Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS), led by Executive Director and SLI Co-Founder, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, has earned this designation. Rebekkah has long been a champion for libraries and sustainability. She is a co-founder and current president of the Sustainable Libraries Initiative has authored numerous books and is a frequent speaker on this topic. She has Chaired the ALA Council Committee on Sustainability and is a founding board member of the Sustainability Roundtable (SustainRT). Through her work as Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System, she has provided information, staff development, and leadership on how libraries can take an active role in building more sustainable practices both within their buildings and reaching out into the community. This leadership in sustainability has had a direct impact on the libraries and communities served by the MHLS. Seven libraries in this system have enrolled in the SLCP and Highland Public Library has become certified.
As part of their certification process, MHLS developed policies that explicitly state the importance of considering triple bottom line sustainability in decision-making at all levels of the organization. They have made efforts to reduce waste by exclusively using reusable cups, dishes, and cutlery in their staff areas and conference rooms. They started composting food waste on-site and recently installed EV chargers in their parking lot. They regularly highlight member libraries who demonstrate programs or events that focus on environmental stewardship in their newsletter. To decorate for a recent event, the staff upcycled discarded books into pumpkin centerpieces to adorn the tables, created birdhouses out of children’s book covers (pictured), and made trees out of old magazines.
MHLS has continued to find new and innovative ways to expand library services, create new partnerships, and find new ways to inform and empower their member libraries and communities. Their Library of Local project was formed in partnership with Partners for Climate Action Hudson Valley to assist community members in taking action on the climate crisis. This project includes a lending library and programming developed around a yearly theme. Fifteen MHLS libraries were selected to participate, providing a network of climate resilience resources in communities throughout their service area.