Elwood Public Library is Certified Sustainable! Congratulations on your achievement!

Published on April 18, 2024

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For Immediate Release
March 29, 2024

                                                                        Elwood Public Library is Certified Sustainable

                                       The Sustainable Libraries Initiative recognizes Elwood Public Library as a leader in sustainability

Elwood Public Library Staff

                             SUFFOLK COUNTY, NY, March 29, 2024Elwood Public Library, located in Elwood, New York has been designated a “Certified Sustainable Library” through the Sustainable Libraries Initiative’s award-winning Sustainable Library Certification Program (SLCP).

One-and-a-half years after embarking on their sustainability journey, the Elwood Public Library has successfully achieved certification. Despite the many challenges they faced as both a small library, and a library in a leased space, their certification encompassed many impressive feats and demonstrated that sustainability is a value that can be adapted to any situation.

Elwood identified the value of social media channels in extending their reach. Their weekly educational Instagram posts on a variety of green-minded topics, and a dedicated landing page on their website with a sustainability catalog, programs, and other associated information, was a creative approach to increasing awareness and indicative of a strong communication strategy. Programs offered targeted all ages and include events such as “Transit Solutions BINGO” to explore green means of transportation, pedestrian safety classes, educational programming on how to recycle, seed saving 101, “Touch a Truck” events to build the relationship between first responders and children of the community, and kid’s voting stations during Election Day polling to introduce children to democracy. Additionally, the library made a commitment to avoid plastic giveaways during programs – choosing to opt for practical items, or gift cards donated by local businesses, whenever possible.

Elwood also focused on partnerships with external organizations to push the boundaries of what is possible on their own such as a biannual e-waste recycling event with a company called ecoTech Management that encouraged patrons to drop off any unwanted computers, televisions, radios, and other electronics to be properly recycled. The outdoor space of the Elwood Public Library is very restricted: located in a shopping center at the site of an old Blockbuster Video store. To counteract this obstacle, the library planted seeds in an indoor greenhouse with teen volunteers, and upgraded the parking lot with planting beds to create space to grow native plants. Elwood’s sustainability team was dedicated throughout the process, and the effective work done by their small in-house team exemplifies the power in collective action – bringing their staff together for the greater good allowed an infectious positive energy to spread beyond their walls to their community.

When asked about Elwood’s accomplishments, SLI mentor Janet Scherer – director of the South Huntington Public Library -- detailed:

 “It was a pleasure to mentor the team at the Elwood Public Library. Elwood is a small library in a rented space, so from the outset they were faced with challenges that a typical public library doesn’t have to deal with. Their staff worked hard and made changes to their policies, programming, partnerships and personal behavior that serve as perfect examples of the triple bottom line definition of sustainability. I was most impressed with how they not only consistently worked towards doing what they could to change their physical space, but also alerting their landlord to the importance of sustainable practices. While many of the changes they requested were denied, or were not attainable in the space, their determination to change the mindset of another to recognize the importance of sustainable practices will, I hope, pay off in the future. I congratulate the Elwood Public Library on this achievement.”

This achievement makes Elwood Public Library the twenty-first public library to complete the Sustainable Library Certification Program, an award-winning community of practice designed to provide public libraries, academic libraries, library systems, and school librarians with exclusive resources and guidelines to shift towards a cleaner, greener, and more equitable future.

When considering the sustainable policies installed before participating in the SLCP, Elwood reports that they found the program useful in educating staff and patrons on why these actions are taken. Things like turning off lights and computers when not in use are no longer just a routine, but rather a conscious decision to be more sustainable with the data, knowledge, and resources to back it up and explain why it matters. In the future, the library is interested in finding a more financially sustainable option than renting their space: giving them more control and innovative freedom in their facility. Elwood will continue to uphold the value of sustainability using their inspiration and motivation from the program to carry their hard work forward.

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