Green Fundraising in New Jersey


The Collingswood Friends of the Library, along with the Collingswood Public Library, recently put out a call to its community members who like to sew, either by machine or by hand. The plan is for interested folks to make one-of-a-kind fabric book bags—which also happen to be good for shopping, toting, and general all-around using—out of donated fabric. The Friends will then sell the finished bags for $10 each at the library, helping to fund programming, acquisitions, technology upgrades, and physical improvements to the library itself.  

This will be an ongoing fundraiser and some fabric-and-pattern bundles are already available, but to get things started, there will be an all-ages book bag sewing workshop on December 4 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Participants will be charged a $5 fee, which covers all materials as well as use of a sewing machine. Volunteers will provide help for those who need it. The donation will go to the Friends and the bags will go to the ongoing book tote sale, turning old clothes and other unwanted fabric into the books, programs, and other materials the Library needs. 

The Collingswood Public Library, an independent, single-branch library serving Collingswood and Woodlynne, New Jersey (a total of about 19,000 people) will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2011.


Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster Library Research Guides


Photo: caitlin quinn. Boycott Pollution @ Coney Island's Mermaid Parade, 2010

Information on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster is popping up everywhere. I am weary of much of it, particularly since BP has bought terms such as “oil spill” from search engine providers (including Google) to help direct Internet users to its website and thus attempting to control information pertaining to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Here are a small handful of library research guides on the topic that I found helpful:

025.431: The Dewey blog
LSU Media Center
National Library of Medicine
Tulane University’s Louisiana Research Collection
Tulane University’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Research Guide

Beyond Books: Libraries Support DIY Home Improvement


New York: Reverse the global trend toward the corporatization and consolidation of seed resources!

The Hudson Valley Seed Library exists to create an accessible and affordable source of locally-adapted seeds featuring over 50 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers; a viable small-scale and regionally-based seed production network. Growing seeds in your home garden and learning how to save seeds from the plants you grow is a way to practice frugality, develop regional food security, and enjoy being active and outside more often!



California: More seeds, do-it-yourself crafts, woodworking, and more!

The Tool Lending Library, of Oakland Public Library, currently offers over 2700 tools available for loan, as well as books and how-to videos. The tools can be used for a variety of purposes, including carpentry, gardening, plumbing, and electrical work. The Tool Lending Library also offers workshops based on the interests and needs of patrons. Past classes have included plumbing repairs, power tool safety, working with the router and basic electrical repairs.

A project of the Richmond Rivets in collaboration with the Richmond Public Library, the ‘Richmond Grows Seed-Lending Library’ opens in May 2010 and allows the public to borrow seeds for free, hoping that borrowers will donate seeds back to the library following harvest. It is believed to be the only seed-lending library currently operating in a public library in the U.S. The Seed-Lending Library is also a fiscally sponsored project of Urban Tith and can accept tax-deductible donations through them.

Reflections on Librarianship


The following is a letter which was recently posted to the ALA Council List by PLG member Elaine Harger in which she reflects on where libraries, specifically public libraries, fit into the communities in which they are situated. She brings important questions to the table with regard to the roles and responsibilities held by both individual libraries and larger library affiliated institutions in light of economic and environmental disaster. Please read as food for thought and thank you to Kathleen de la Peña McCook for making this available to the broader PLG community!

Dear colleagues,

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about all the suggestions made this past week regarding topics for discussion at the Membership Meeting at annual. I have also been thinking about ALA and librarianship in general in regard to environmental issues and have yet another idea to add to the hopper.

How do we make libraries relevant in the face of ecological degradation and disaster? For instance, did libraries in New Orleans inform their users about the probability that a hurricane like Katrina might cause the kind of damage that it, in fact, did? It was well known to civil engineers, journalists and others that a big hurricane would devastate the region, but did libraries ever highlight that information so that people might be better prepared? And, what role did libraries in wealthy areas play in fostering a spirit of civic unity with people in poor areas? How did libraries inform users of the likelihood of massive numbers of people becoming refugees? And, what should a library’s responsibility be in the face of the ecological stresses scientists are now warning us about? What is ALA’s responsibility as a leader within our profession? These are not academic questions — each one of our communities is vulnerable and we are all interconnected in vital ways. I think it is time for a discussion of these issues, as they are at the heart of a conversation that the entire nation needs to engage in. Yes, we can discuss what we’d like to see an Obama administration do in regard to libraries, but we need a _vision_ of the direction librarianship must head toward in the face of environmental (and economic, social and political) problems before we can take a wish list to the new president.

Librarianship needs to take a good, hard, eyes-wide-open look at where we are physically, historically and morally in order to transition the profession to meet the pressures of a future the likes of which we’ve never seen. If we are to make good on our promises to bear witness of what happened in New Orleans, then we need to reflect on what our responsibility is in preparing our own users and communities for the “disasters” that await us. We can certainly “hope” that President Obama will lead us in the right direction regarding these matters, but we really should be proactive and let him know that we have been thinking about the role librarianship could play in the transition to a more just and healthy world.

This afternoon I read an essay by Arundhati Roy entitled “Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?” In it she makes a special point about honorable people who get elected to positions of power. I highly recommend this essay, which can be found at:

We can’t passively “hope” for a better world, we need to be that change, and in order for this to happen within librarianship we need to do some serious reflection on where we fit into society, what that society is truly like and what we would like it to become.

All my best,

Elaine Harger

Green Librarianship


What does it mean for a library to be “green”? A friendly place to begin searching for answers to such a question is WebJunction (“An online community for library staff”). See, for example, Sustainable Stacks: Libraries Go Green, a short article published on WebJunction this year.

Hungry for general suggestions, ideas, and/or examples of how libraries are utilizing technology and community to lessen the ecological impact of their services? Take a peek at:

ALA’s SRRT Task Force on the Environment

Blog: Earth and Library Advocacy from Bozeman, Montana

Blog: Green Librarian

Green Librarianship – Radical Reference Wiki

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photo: Librarians After Dark on Flickr