Sustainable California Libraries

A guest post by Julianna Robbins, Library Programs Consultant, California State Library

According to a June 2022 poll from NextGen California, climate / environment was ranked as the top issue for likely California voters — above inflation, homelessness, and crime and public safety. California libraries and communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change. What are California libraries doing to actively address the need for information and community connections on climate, wildfires, drought, pollution, habitat protection, biodiversity and more?

Do you wish you could do more, but struggle with staffing and lack of funding? Do you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the issues? At this “everyone in” moment in time, we all can play an important role in shifting to more sustainable programs, services, and buildings. Below are a few ways you might get involved today, at whatever level of involvement feels right and at the capacity you have.

Building Momentum: Steps You Can Take Now – from (almost) any level in the library
  • Join the Sustainable Thinking for the Future of Libraries 1-hour free webinar on Wednesday, July 20 at 11:00 AM. In this webinar, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich will explore the importance of infusing the new core value of sustainability into everything we do and demonstrate how libraries can lead into the future using ‘sustainable thinking’ to fulfill our mission.
  • Apply for the NEW LSTA-funded Sustainable California Libraries themed grant which provides libraries the opportunity to design programming and educational opportunities focused on sustainability and climate resilience, by collaborating with project partners, community connections, and community members. Libraries may apply for awards of between $10,000 – $30,000 per project. Review program and partnership ideas and share your suggestions or questions at an upcoming information session, July 20 or August 17. Applications are due August 31, 2022.
  • Learn more about the California Strategic Growth Council Community Resilience Center Program which “will prioritize community-serving locations across the state, such as schools, libraries, community centers, health clinics, and places of worship.”
  • Bay Area Libraries – learn more about the Bay Area Resilient Libraries Network Initiative
  • Explore Project Drawdown’s Climate Solutions at Work
  • Get involved in the ALA Sustainability Roundtable
  • Form a green team at your library or join a city or county-wide group, reach out to your local California Green Business network, connect with community members, frontline organizations, and library staff across the state

Greg Lucas, California State Librarian, reminds us that neighborhood libraries serve an important role in community resilience. “Libraries and museums are unique in that people want to go visit them. So, whatever libraries are championing, or showcasing is going to be that much more accessible to visitors. If libraries walk the walk as well as talk the sustainability talk, the changes in behavior our communities need to make will come that much sooner.”

California libraries need more seats as the sustainability table. Are we ready to lead, listen, and engage with the urgent and essential mind shift to sustainability? Let’s continue the conversation and grow together. Please reach out to with ideas or questions.