Policy Resources

Becoming certified through the Sustainable Library Certification Program will require you to take a close look at your institution’s policies. This part of the certification process is important in making sure that the forward thinking mindset emphasized by this program will truly be embedded in the operations of your library for years to come. 

There are several policies that you will be asked to modify or create as part of the certification process. Examples of these policies from our member libraries and libraries nationwide can be used to guide your administration and library board through this process. A total of eight Action Items require specific topics to be addressed in policy or mission statements. Keep in mind that one policy or mission statement could be written to include the concepts in more than one category of Action Items.

Policy Action Items

Your library's Sustainability Policy will set the tone for decision making at all levels of your institution. Declaring that you will factor triple bottom line sustainability into your institution’s decision making process will let all library stakeholders know that these considerations are fundamental to operations.

Products purchased for use in the library should factor in the environmental costs. These considerations could include the packaging, ingredients, and whether the item can be found from a local retailer or supplier. A purchasing policy should explicitly prioritize the best choice for environmental and social responsibility.



A statement could be added to an existing travel policy or included as part of an environmental sustainability policy. It is important to encourage staff to travel in the most environmentally sound means possible for professional engagements.

"In adopting Climate Conscious Travel, we will ensure the key focus of any travel decision consider the safety of our travelers, a reduction in carbon emissions and management of our financial costs."


Excessive idling can waste over $100 a year for personal vehicles. Save your patrons and community some of their own money by posting signs and publicizing your request that motorists turn off their engines while visiting the library. Posting signs in areas frequently used to drop off and pick up passengers and near the book return will remind patrons that we can all do our part to reduce pollution. Writing a “No-Idle” clause into delivery service contracts will let your suppliers know that idling is prohibited on your property. There may already be motor vehicle idling restrictions in your area. Check the IdleBase Database of Idling Regulations for regulations in towns and cities in the US organized by state. Saratoga Springs and Albany have idling restrictions as part of their city’s traffic code.

Forming partnerships with other community organizations can broaden the reach and impact of library services in the community. These partnerships should be undertaken with the goal of enhancing the mission of the library and assisting in addressing the needs of your community. Formalizing this as part of your Mission Statement or in policy ensures that this practice and the guidelines established will be long lasting.

Formalizing your library’s commitment to acknowledging, serving, and including the diverse facets of your community is important to have formalized in writing and approved by your board. Explicitly stating the goal of having the staff reflect the diversity of the community can serve to guide the library’s communication of open positions to be sure that these opportunities are broadcasted in inclusive and innovative ways as standard practice.

Libraries play an important role in the resiliency of any community. The importance of communicating important information, making referrals and provision of services is vital to the ability of our community members to withstand and recover from challenging situations. Noting your library’s commitment to making valuable contributions to the resiliency of your community either in the form of a community resilience policy, board resolution, or as part of a mission statement will formalize these efforts.

The Sustainable Library Certification Program should make you look at your collection development and weeding policies from a whole new dimension. Applying the triple bottom line definition of sustainability to this policy could mean adding the consideration of the whole life-cycle of materials purchased, the variety of formats available including digital availability, and emphasizing the importance of holding materials that reflect the diversity of your community. Stating a commitment to prioritize paths of reuse and recycling for discarded materials reinforces the message of sustainability within these policies.