Sustainable Thinking for the Future of Libraries Leadership Webcast

>> Cheryl Stenstrom: Good morning or good afternoon everyone, depending on what time zone you're in. My name is Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom and I, along with doctors Sue Alman and Deborah Hicks co-lead the San Jose State University iSchools Leadership and Management Advisory Committee. A couple of years ago that committee had been talking a lot about how one of the things that they struggle with when they're talking to students or new grads or anyone looking for a job is the need for ongoing development in their leadership and management skills. And so to that end, we started to develop a series of webinars that focused on how students and new professionals and seasoned professionals could learn vicariously through a series of speakers who talked about both what it was like on the job and to be in the shoes of a leader, but also to possess leadership qualities at any position and ran that as a four part series over spring of, sorry, I forget the year, but I think it was 2017. So since then we have aimed as a committee to put on a couple of webinars a year and expand our offerings and expand the wonderful speakers that we've been able to profile and the different angles and insights that they can bring to the topic of leadership. So earlier this year, Dr. Alman had the opportunity to meet Rebekkah Smith Aldrich who is a leader in sustainability for library. So we're thrilled that she is here with us today. And we are able to feature what she can share with us about sustainability in libraries. Before we turn the mic over to Rebekkah, we are going to just give you a bit of background information about her and say that what our format is for the day is to have her speak and then we'll have plenty of time at the end of the presentation for questions and comments that we can all share before we log off for the end of the day. So, having said that, I will tell you that Rebekkah Smith Aldrich is the executive director of the Mid-Hudson Library System. She currently serves as the co-chair of the American Library Association Special Task Force on Sustainability as an advisory board member for the ALA Center for the Future of Libraries and she's also the co-founder of the-- both the ALA Sustainability Round Table and the New York Library Association Sustainability Initiative. She's a frequent international speaker on the topic of libraries and sustainability and she's the author of Sustainable Thinking, Ensuring your Library's Future in an Uncertain World and Resilience, part of the library future series from ALA editions. She's also the sustainability columnist for Library Journal. So you can also find out more about her work at So without further ado, I'd like to turn it over to Rebekkah and hear what she has to teach us all about sustainability in libraries today. Go ahead, Rebekkah. >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: So, hello, everyone. And thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. I had a smile on my face as you described the leadership and management goals of this webinar because I used to be the president of the leadership and management section of the New York Library Association. And it was probably one of the best personal and professional experiences of my career. I'm getting a chance to really hear from people in the field who have been, I think, through experiences that you can't quite predict. And figuring out how you hone your leadership skills, when you don't know what's coming next, sometimes is a very cool thing to learn about. And I think that's a big part of what I'm here to talk to you about today in terms of sustainable thinking for the future of libraries. I just wanted to give you a little more background about what I've been doing for the past 20 years. I have been here in New York for the past 20 years and doing work for the Mid-Hudson Library System primarily with 66 public libraries. All of whom or most of whom have public votes on their budget. So I've spent a lot of my time in my career as a library development specialist which is a non-traditional role in the library profession, probably. And they let me pick my own title which was probably a big mistake. So in 2008, my title became the coordinator for library sustainability which made a lot of people think all I did was build sustainably designed buildings. But what I was actually working on was making sure my libraries were these three things vital, visible and viable because I wanted them to have sustainable funding. So I spent a lot of time explaining my title which made me really good at talking about it. So just to give you an idea of the type of work I've been doing for the past 20 years, we've been taking a look at how vital our libraries. Are they actually meeting the needs of our communities? Are they visible to people know we exist and that we have stuff they want? And are they actually viable and they have the capacity to meet their community's needs. And capacity takes a very-- a variety of forms, right? That could be the money you need, the staff training you need, board education for trustees, director coaching to make sure directors who may or may not haven't been able to go to library school or who went to library school but never learned how to win a building referendum, or design a building, or design new programs and services that respond to the changing needs of their community. It meant I've got a lot of exposure to how 66 libraries do you think here in my system. And then about 10 years ago, I started my own consulting company helping libraries outside of my system throughout New York and the rest of the country. And then the past few years, I've been working on some very exciting projects related to sustainability in a holistic way that I'm going to spend the bulk of my time talking to you about here today. But I thought it would be important for you to understand the origin of this work. And we are going to talk about environmental sustainability, no doubt, but the truth is that libraries cannot live on love alone. We need funding to do what we do. And so when I think about being a leader in the library profession I often, you know, I try to be humble about that, but the truth is you do have to own being a leader in the library profession if you want to attract investment, financial investment in your library. And in most situations, at least on the East Coast, we have public votes on library budgets. So you might be doing presentations to municipalities or other decision makers who decided about the funding for your institution. This is something that's everyone's responsibility, no matter what you do in a library is being articulate about why your library matters, why what you do matters, and really understanding how proactive we have to be about this in the future in light of recent research on the topic. Perhaps you saw this report which came out last year from awareness to funding which updated a report from 2008 looking at voter perceptions and support of public libraries. And this was a report in 2008. That meant a lot to me because I work on referendums all the time. I've done over a hundred campaigns in my career helping libraries attract both operating funds and facility funding for expansion and renovation. And when you think about how hard it is to ask people to tax themselves more for library services, you better be doing a pretty good job and being very well spoken about it in order to warrant someone voting yes to tax themselves more. And this new report was I'll admit it, it was a little depressing because it said in the past 10 years we've seen a 15% decline in the-- out of the gate number of possible yes voters. So without doing any education we're further behind the eight ball than we used to be 10 years ago. 40% decline in the number of voters who think that librarians are well known in the community. So our visibility, our connectivity with other people in our communities has declined a great deal which means you are starting from again even further behind the starting line than we were 10 years ago. And then, you know, a lesser percentage there, but a decline in a number of things that really hurt my heart, 20% decline in the number of voters who agree that we're an excellent resource for kids, or that we have an excellent public library as a source of pride in the community, or that librarians are friendly and approachable. So it always makes me think of customer service training I received a number of years ago where they said if you have a bad customer service experience, someone will tell that story seven times. If they have a good customer service experience, they might tell that story one or two times. So it really speaks to how much time and energy must be put in to how we talk about ourselves, how we advocate for ourselves, and the nonverbal cues that we give out in our institutions that tell the story of who we are, which means we have to be extremely strategic about where we're going in the future with our libraries. Regardless of the type of library you end up working in, I encourage you right now to start honing your vision for the future of libraries because it will take you literally years to articulate that in a way that will make people want to follow you, believe in you, and invest their time, energy and money in the vision that you have for the future. So I wanted to give you some tips about that that have been extremely helpful to me in my work so far in libraries. And I mentioned that I've worked in over a hundred campaigns and I will say that that's all well and good, but did we win? That's what most people asked me next. And I can say that in 20 years, I have a 93% success rate. So I think most of the time, things are going pretty good. So, some of this stuff might be useful to you in the future. And one of the most incredibly important things I use with my libraries is this idea of starting with why. And I'm sorry if that little graphic is too tiny for you to read. But this is based on a book by a gentleman named Simon Sinek, S-I-N-E-K. He's got quite famous thanks to a Ted talk he did. It's about 14 minutes long. The book is also an easy read but if you're short on time, given that you're in graduate school, I could understand that. But it's a great read, good Ted talk. He's a business consultant looking for patterns in businesses. And one of the things he pulled out was he noticed that companies that were getting a faster leg up than others back in the '80s and '90s, or those who were doing messaging different than their competitors, they were starting with messages of why they do what they do rather than just itemizing the specifications of a product, or itemizing the items you could buy from their company gives the great example of Apple. And I bet many of you have iPhone or iPad and you're watching this webinar on an iPad right now. And he talks about how they talked about why they made this product. They wanted user-centered aesthetically pleasing design. And in the 1980s, that resonated with more people who weren't techy enough to understand how the other computer companies were selling computers when they were selling them based on the specifications of the technology, faster memory, bigger monitors, more capacity. And people were like I don't even know what to do with a computer in my house. But hey, if it's computers and I need to learn it and it's designed for a human, that sounds better to me. And they got more of the market share faster because they switched the way they did the-- the messaging and starting with why. And so when we do assessments of our libraries websites, we often see these itemizations of what you have to offer, or programs you have to offer, what technology you have to offer, very little messaging on why you do those things. So making that assumption that everyone understands why libraries are amazing and necessary and essential is one of the number one mistakes we make. So as a good leader, really understanding how to articulate the why behind the what is one of the key things that we do. And when I think about the why behind the what of the libraries that I get to work with, at the end of the day, it really does come down to do we care about our neighbors? Are we helping them in their lives in providing resources, tools and information that help them enhance their own lives, the lives of their children, the lives of their community to make the world a better place? And that might sound, you know, enormous, but because it is. When you really think about everything we do in libraries, whether it's helping somebody research genealogy, or find a job, or help their kid do better at school, or they're advancing their own career, or making a job shift, all of it is really related to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So when we think about how to deeply embed that messaging, the why behind the what we do, we have to start at the very top and think about the entire ecology of a community and people's lives in this ecology. So in 2014, when I was kind of mulling over this thinking of how we do this work and how we talk about it, this report came out from the United Nations and it caught my eye in the New York Times because the commentator noted that there was many reports that came out from this group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But this was the first one that said, environmentally, it was no longer about saving the earth, it was going to be about surviving the earth. That climate change had brought enough damage at this point that we were going to see sea levels rise, you will see food shortages, you will have air quality control issues, and humans now have to figure out how to adapt in the face of that. The other reports that were coming out were scarier and scarier. Talking about the level of devastation we will see in the next few decades as the waters rise. What it's going to look like when air quality control issues are getting worse and worse and exacerbating existing health problems. Looking at food security issues, there's actually a food deserts here in upstate New York which is something I never thought I would say. And then the issue of that is just the basic math of our economy and our world today which is when there are scarcity issues, it means a rising opportunity for conflict amongst people. And that might be, as many of us have seen in the past few years, really at the very civil disobedience or civil clashing level that we've seen throughout our own country, that we're seeing in Hong Kong right now. These are things that are really happening right now. They're not waiting until 2030. They're not waiting until 2050. It's happening right now. We experienced this, this summer with heat waves that are coming and that's going to be coming more and more frequently. There's the World Health Organization estimation, we're going to see close to 40,000 more deaths a year worldwide because of heat waves. So it's not just for people who live on the coasts. It's not just for people who live in a desert or someplace. It's already having trouble with agriculture. It's right here in your backyard right now. And I think that's the messaging that we're starting to hear get louder and louder amongst the climate activists in our world and many of you heard of this young lady this year. The really the impetus behind the Climate March is, very recently here in America and across the world and she really kick things off. Less-- Almost less than a year and a half ago, I actually counted it was 394 days ago, this young woman got in front of a bunch of very powerful adults and talking about climate change, the impact on her future and she told them point blank, I don't want your hope. I want you to act. I want you to do something. Act as if the house is on fire because it is. So when we think about the future of libraries and what our legacy is going to be, we have to incorporate the thinking surrounding how we're going to adapt in the face of climate change into our everyday work as well as our programmatic work, our service design work, because if we don't, the future generations will look back at our institutions and say, where were you? Why weren't you our ally in doing this work? This is a diagram you may have seen from Psych 101 called Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We're talking about things that really are going to affect people at the most basic level of their lives, food, water, their ability to sleep at night, if they even have a place to sleep. Are you going to see an increasing number of people in strife and in stress? So I know a lot of my friends, my-- one of my co-presenters, Matt Bollerman he often says, you know, I got into this business thinking I was going to be working at the top of this triangle, I was going to be doing classes on Picasso and listening to Dvorak in the library and working on self-actualization of my community. But he finds himself working more towards the middle and bottom of this pyramid more frequently as a library director where he serves in our community. So very interesting to think about reshaping service design, program design, making sure we're actually responding to real life community needs today, not what we wish their community needs were, but what they actually are. So one of the absolute coolest things I have seen in very recent memory is another report from that bizarre organization I just told you about, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, because they've issued report after report with very technical information about the impact of climate change and what it's going to be doing to the environmental world around us and calling for us to adapt our economy at a speed that is unprecedented. And it's overwhelming. We're not even sure where to start. So this group of scientists came up with four things we should all focus on, the things the world needs right now. And wait until you see what they are because the light bulbs going to go off for you just like it did for me. What the world needs now is locally focused problem serving-- solving, people working together, people who recognize and value diversity because the diversity of opinion and experience is where we're going to get the creative solutions we need to face the future and for all to be heard. Now, who is perfectly positioned to do this work? That is us. That is libraries. We are excellent to this kind of thing. Is anyone writing about libraries in these reports? No, they're not. Whose fault is that? That is our fault. So we need to start talking about ourselves and doing things that get the attention they deserve and doing things that actually make a huge difference in our communities with purpose, not just having a cool idea and hoping it works, but actually doing the work, doing the study, collecting the data, translating that on behalf of our communities. And I'll share with you that a few years ago, actually two years ago, I was at my own state conference talking about this issue with Youth Services librarians. And I will completely admit I was very tired during the presentation. And I was on my soapbox right where I am in this presentation right now and I said, you know what people, we're going to library science the shit out of this and the room erupted with laughter and I was completely embarrassed. I couldn't believe I had done that in the middle of the presentation and now I do it all the time. Because somebody who I have tracked down, put it on a tote bag, and as a joke, sent it to me as a gift and then without telling me opened up an Etsy shop. And I found out because I was at the JFK Airport and a woman walked by me with this tote bag and I didn't know her. And then I kept getting pictures and texts with more and more people who have this tote bag. So it's awesome to me to think about the fact that we are getting riled up about these issues and understanding that we are scientists too. And we can use the platform we have in our libraries to address some of the biggest challenges facing our communities right now if we choose to own that role in our communities, in our campuses, and in our schools. So that's what I've been working on for the past few years, is how do we develop leadership on the topic of sustainability in libraries. And you may have noticed in the description of this webinar that ALA, the American Library Association, in January at their midwinter meeting has now adopted sustainability as a core value, something that lo and behold, right here today is being exposed to library students, library school students. It's being woven into curriculum in library schools all over the country. I'm dealing with probably six universities right now asking me for advice of how we start exposing this issue, teaching it, embedding it in the leadership skill set of our future library leaders. So what I want to do for you today is just to give you a taste of some of the stuff that I think is pretty critical to understand around this issue. As you think about your own professional development, you put together your own individual professional development plan. These might be things you want to learn more about. There's some terminology that starting to get repeated again and again that you're going to start to see, if you haven't already. And one of the most important things is that we're all defining the word sustainability using the same language. So the American Library Association has adopted what's called the triple bottom line definition of sustainability because what we discovered in our work here in New York on the topic of sustainability was everyone assumes it's just about the environment. But nothing on our world exists in a silo. As John Muir, the famous environmentalist said once you pull on one thread in the universe, you find it connected to everything else. So we have to have a whole system's approach to thinking about how to address issues related to sustainability. And so this definition helps us understand it's really the intersection of three things. It's whether or not a product, a building, a community, a library has this balance amongst these three things of being economically feasible, environmentally sound and socially equitable. Now, libraries are pretty good on at least two or three of these things, maybe not all three, maybe not equally well, but we talked about this sometimes as a three-legged stool because if one of these things is out of balance, the stool will tip over. And I think this is the future challenge of library leaders in our profession is how you make operational decisions for your library, programmatic and service decisions that address the whole situation, not just one of these things or the other, because within that center spot of this Venn diagram is where we find sustainability and resilience for our communities, for our students, for the people that we serve, and for ourselves as institutions and professionals. So this concept, we've been talking about this for a long time, but in libraries for the past five years only. This has been the constructs that they've been using worldwide for a very long time and one of my favorite reports that comes out every year which is the World Happiness Report. I don't know if anyone else geeks out about this report like I do. But they have created a metric system to figure out what are the happiest countries in the world. And what did they judge them on? This is going to sound kind of familiar now that you know about the triple bottom line. They talk about four pillars, sustainable and equitable, socioeconomic development, environmental conservation, preservation and promotion of culture and good governance. Libraries are once again, perfectly positioned to assist with these four things and exhibit these four things within their own institutions. So thinking about this work from the inside out, embedding it into the ethos of how we run libraries, how we manage departments, how we run our teams, how we make decisions, this is going to help position libraries as more and more capable to do and help with this work in the wider community. So what we've posited here in New York and it's a phrase that I use an awful lot is this idea of sustainable thinking. It's not a checklist that you have by your side, or you pull out in April for Earth Day. It's not that thing that would be nice if we remember to do it when we're planning a project. It needs to be completely embedded and how you think all the time. It needs to be the lens through which you view the world and you make decisions. So I'm sure many of you have been in a situation where you've had to wordsmith by a committee and this is one of those phrases. So it's a very long definition in my opinion, but the-- it pulls together the things we've been talking about so far this afternoon. Sustainable thinking takes your core values as a library and we're talking about your core values like a commitment to democracy, lifelong learning, social responsibility, access to information, all those core values and the resources you have to deliver on those core values whether it be your staff, your collections, your facility, and align that with the local and global communities right to sustainability, resilience and regeneration, and really thinking about how to infuse new and energetic life into our communities through the library. And I think just not being a passive organization that waits for people to come to us but we're actively engaged with our constituency, understanding what they're trying to do, and making sure our resources and our efforts match with their aspirations in their community. So again, very big picture, but we have to start getting real about this, how do you actually make this happen? So one of the things I've been watching really closely is the well-being project out of Santa Monica in California. They got a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg foundation to figure out how to measure well-being in their community. And I was thinking this is an excellent way for us to organize our thinking, in particular for public libraries as well, when we think about the impact of the work that we do. Because part of being a leader is not just having a vision and getting people to follow you in that vision, there's also the gut check and actually measure did you make a difference with the choices that you made? So I think it's an interesting way to break out how we think about what we do and why it matters and how we're going to measure things in the future to make sure we're actually making a difference for our community. And what you work on in particular might look different depending on the region of the country or the region of the world you're in, it might look different based on the economy of the community you live in, or the age and demographic issues that you're contending with, but I think again, a good way to reorganize our thinking and understanding it's not just about education. Education does not exist in a vacuum, it exists for a purpose and it should be tied to the well-being of those that we serve. So, each of you will end up in a different library institution and a different role in those institutions but I think some of this thinking in the structured way to view the world could be helpful to you in the future. Because what I really see for the future is a role for libraries as catalysts and conveners. Catalysts in that we model our choices in terms of how we wish our community was living, that we treat our staff right. We have a living wages and benefits for them, that we treat them well when it comes to their own well-being because that will translate into how we treat our patrons. That we build our buildings and operate our buildings the way they should be with the idea of human health in mind, both inside those buildings, and from where the materials came from to build those buildings. As you can tell, I could go on and on talking about that aspect of what we do. The other idea of being a convener, to bring people together just like the United Nations report suggested that we need local problem solving to figure out what's going to happen next and how we all respond to that. And if it's not locally grown, who's going to do that work? And libraries are well-positioned to help bring together the right players to provide meeting space for that work, to provide research and information for that work that needs to be done. So if we don't start now to position ourselves as players who are going to be helping with these things, we're going to get left behind. People are going to wonder what the heck we're doing over there and why their tax dollars are going to those libraries. So I want to show you examples of libraries who are head of the curve on this issue who get it, who are really doing the work and embedding this kind of stuff, not only in their library operations, but in how they're connecting with their constituents. And one of the first examples I ever came across that caught my attention was the Canadian library, the West Vancouver Memorial Library, who right in their strategic plan has adopted sustainability as one of their core values. And if you take a study of this library, you will see their values, particularly in the area of sustainability, reflected in the choices they make about their facilities, about their outreach, about their programming, about their messaging. It is infused and embedded throughout that organization. So living your values, I think, is something as a future leader to really think about how does that come to life? You need to embed this stuff in your organization. It can't just be in your head. You have to make it very visible. So when you say it to somebody that you manage your resources responsibly to maintain the financial, social and environmental sustainability and for the well-being of our community, who is going to argue with that? That is an amazing thing to be working on as an institution that's tax supported. And then pro tip, you couple that with a picture of a cute kid and you're going to have a golden time with this. People are totally going to get it. But I will point out that if we make a study of this library, they also had adopted sustainability in their previous strategic plan five years earlier, however, it was worded differently. It talked about the sustainability of the library and, you know what, nobody cares about that, except for library administration. What the community cares about is what are you doing for them? How are you translating a return on investment that they've made in you for their benefit, for the benefit of their community? So making sure you're always having your messaging face outwards, and demonstrate how you impact the wider world, this is where we start to build our base of support, and people buy into what we're doing. They actually use the services and programs we designed for them. And then everything starts to come full circle and work pretty well for most libraries. So the other cool thing that I've noticed about libraries and why I think it's really relevant to this topic of leadership and management is we're so local, we're like microlocal, particularly for public libraries where you get to really find out the flavor of your community, the characters who live in your town, what people are trying to work together to do, and we get to really focus and hone in on supporting that with the resources we have and the creativity we bring to the table as library scientists. Because in most people's experiences who have studied this issue in sociology, they find that most communities they have everything they need within the community, it's just not catalyzed or activated, or people don't know each other to bring together their minds that need to be in the same room to figure things out. So we're seeing more and more examples of that in libraries and this kind of mentality. When we think about how far away do you feel like I am right now from the topic of environmental sustainability, but the truth is, the things that are going to happen in your community, that are related to environmental sustainability are different than what's going to happen in somebody else's community. So unless the people who actually live there understand the environmental world around them, how the economy shapes the world around them, how social equity issues shape the world around them, they're going to have a hard time coming together to figure out solutions for the future. One of the best programs I see in my region that is doing this work right now is the Repair Cafe. This is a program that was created in Amsterdam in the Netherlands and it's been brought over to the US. We have a very high concentration of these cafes in the Hudson Valley and I can see it creeping across America. Sometimes they're called different things. This is a brand and you have a DIY tool kit to do-it-yourself. But the idea behind it is that there are people in your community who know how to fix things, and they're willing to teach you how to fix things, or help you fix things. And by working together to fix things, maybe we don't have to rely on buying more new things and keep some stuff out of the transfer station and actually get to know each other and actually respect each other and create more of a neighborhood or community feel through our libraries. And I have to say I've gone to four of these so far in different regions of our state and the characters where they are all different, but the vibe is the same. They are excited to be together. They think it's so cool they're helping out each other. And they're so grateful for to the library for bringing them together, so they could learn something new and meet each other. And again, at the end of the day isn't that what this is really all about? It's to strengthen those social bonds that people have so they can take care of one another, and actually be a true community, not people to just happen to live in the same zip code. The other cool thing we're seeing is more and more self-sufficiency which is exactly related to that Repair Cafe idea, more programming in libraries that teaches people how the world works, and how they can control their own food consumption, where their food comes from, preserving their own food, making stuff last longer, so they're not a slave to the consumer culture, on really owning and having resilience in the face of whatever the economy happens to throw your way, is a growing area of concern for more and more people in our communities. Again, library has almost access to all the wisdom in the world. We need to activate that on behalf of our communities to make them stronger in the face of whatever might come in the future. So we've got these long-term self-sufficiency issues, but also some very acute self-sufficiency issues related to community resilience. We're going to be seeing more and more severe weather throughout the world. And our ability to prepare for that and recover from it needs to be a local community effort and library should be a part of that effort. Whether it be how your building plays a part in the recovery efforts, or perhaps how you're connected to the wider network of people thinking about this stuff and helping people prepare for the future. This is an active project I have now. I've partnered with the New Jersey State Library and we're working with FEMA Region 1, so the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And we're working on having libraries they're testing out with library leaders being preparedness ambassadors, people in our communities who understand the most likely things that could happen in your region of the world, and know who the players are in your community to be talking to each other to have plans in place, so that more people are not as devastatingly affected by something as they could be if no one cared about what happens in your region of the world. So we've been encouraging our libraries to connect more fully with the first responder community. As an example, for one of my libraries in Putnam County, New York, they have a first responder thank you picnic every year now which brings together a segment of the community that normally wouldn't be coming to the library. These are people who sometimes feel that the library is competition for tax dollars. But understanding that these are all good people from the library side, from the first responder side who really are trying to do the same thing which is to make their community a better place, but they're doing so in different ways. So finding common ground by saying thank you and expressing gratitude, and not necessarily expecting those people to convert into library card holders, but understanding we're all part of the same community. And if we all know each other, we can work together better to make things work well for us in the face of whatever comes next. So this quote from Joe Stiglitz that "We forget the true source of the wealth of the nation is the creativity and innovation of its people." The real, I think, secret ingredient to the future of the health of our communities and the viability of our libraries are how much attention we paid to the idea of social cohesion. How well people know each other, respect each other, and have empathy for one another. Because if we can make those three things come to life, that's going to solve a multitude of problems that face our communities. Whether they be economic, whether they be societally related, technological or environmental, it would mean more people are willing to work together to figure things out. And the power of that cannot be underestimated. I put together a couple examples to show you this idea here of what I'm talking about because it's really very simple. We're just talking about bringing people together who wouldn't normally have the chance to become better neighbors. There's a great example here out in Colorado from the Anythink Libraries where they have block parties, and they encourage people to just get together and break bread and have a conversation. Then their first block party, they set up this filming station where they had a little fishbowl there with-- you would pull out a little slip and have a conversation. It was a conversation starter. And they asked people who had never met each other before to sit down and have a conversation, not about something political or something controversial, but just to get to know each other as humans. Another awesome example of that is found in Maryland and the Choose Civility programming they were doing down there a couple of years ago. This is called the longest table inviting people to have dinner together. And there's seriously a hundred tables strung together here and you're sitting across from people you might never have sat down with before and getting to know each other a little better, and understanding that they're probably kind of just like you at the end of the day. Another great example from a rural library up in New Hampshire where there's no more small town newspaper, the library decided to be the newspaper. They train teenagers to go to public meetings and report on what's going on. They solicit news from the other tax supported agencies to make sure the citizens know what's going on in their own institutions. And the newspaper comes from the library, a trusted source in the community for factual information. So while one system fell apart in terms of the local press and the local journalists, we've rebuilt it because people want to know what's going on, they want to be informed, and the libraries are really logical place for that work to be done. Another cool example you're seeing all over on New York here. We've got tons of farmer's fairs going on at libraries, places where farmers in our region are saying they don't have a place to bring their products to market. So you're seeing farmers markets crop up at libraries which is a great marriage. The library farm up in Cicero, New York, they actually have a food desert where it's very expensive to get fresh fruits and vegetables. And so the library director looked out the back door of the library, and she realized she had a couple of acres that no one was using and they created a library farm where you use your library card and you rent space to grow your own fruits and vegetables. And there's Community Supported Agriculture where they grow fresh fruits and vegetables to donate to local pantries and for people who are struggling to afford or to grow their own food. So very basic things changing perhaps the-- what people might think a library is going to be doing. But building on the exact model we've been using for a hundreds of years, the idea of a sharing economy. That we don't all have to own everything, that we can help each other and teach each other the things that we need. So, just extrapolating that out in some new ways. I put that picture in the upper left-hand corner of the beekeeper to remind me to share with you two things. One, that I have a library that has a live beehive inside the library. I don't go in that library anymore. But-- And another library, because they have that there, because the beekeeping community, they meet at the library. And they were very intrigued with how they could connect local people with local exports. And I saw a couple years ago there was an IMLS grant given to Syracuse University to figure out how to catalog people. If you've got a local expert, how could you have them in your online catalog? So when you did that search on beekeeping, you got the how to book, the how to video and a note that Joe Smith down the road your own neighbor, he's a master beekeeper and willing to talk to you. I thought it was a very cool construct which really speaks to the popularity of programming in libraries these days. Because some people like to learn by actually meeting someone and doing something in person and experiencing something and having your neighbors do that work with you is a pretty cool way to get that done. Another big thing we're looking at is how we connect people with the outdoor world. This is one of my libraries and again in Putnam County actually, the Butterfield Library. With your library card, you can get camping equipment, bird watching kits, treks, so you can go on a hike with your family. So looking at how we create experiences with nature, the disconnection people have from nature is a big part of the reason we have climate change issues today is people forget the choices we make impact the wider world around us. So you're not going to get away from talking with me without me giving a punch here for greener buildings. This is where I actually got my start and true environmental sustainability work in libraries. You'll notice in my bio, I'm a LEED AP, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional. It's a big mouthful. I actually don't care which-- if you have the opportunity to build a building or renovate a building during your career, I don't care which of these things you follow or which construct that you use. But I encourage you to mandate at the beginning of any project you work on, that you deploy sustainable design, and energy efficient design. And we think about the future of our facilities and the health of the people who use our facilities. This is critical to being a leader in the built environment. I'll just share real quick one of my favorite libraries that I've worked on, it's on Ulster County, New York, the Phoenicia Library. They had a fire and so we jokingly said they blazed the trail here, but they're going to be the first library in the country to be certified under the Passive House program, which means they didn't use any fancy technology. They just built a smarter outer shell of their building and made it more highly insulated, and now they're paying a heck of a lot less for their heating and cooling costs than they did in their old, less efficient building. So when we think about long-term sustainability, this hits on that issue of environmental sustainability because they're using less heating oil to heat that building. It talks about fiscal environmental-- sorry, fiscal sustainability, and they're paying far less for a much larger building. And looking at that picture, I want to tell you, it's designed with social equity in mind as well. You'll notice that all the collection is on the outer walls of this library and that is throughout the entire building because they designed it to have people space in the middle of everything. That was the center of their design. So if you're ever in New York, I encourage you to stop by. It's a very cool library, awesome people, and a fantastic pizza parlor called Brio's two doors down. So two more points I want to make and then I'm happy to take any questions that you might have. This is, again, one of my libraries that the Pawling Library. They had a bunch of kids come in one day and ask if kids were allowed to borrow the library's meeting room. And the children's librarian was a little suspicious. She's like, why, what are you up to? And she said, we want to make the world suck less and as a library-- the library director told me that our staffers and pause and then said, you know what, that's what we do here, let's see if we can make an exception for you. And they changed the library's policy to let the teens use the meeting space. They signed over the programming budget for the teens to the kids. And the kids come up with community service projects that they choose and they implement using the platform from the library to make that work happen for their vision of how to make their world, right in their own little corner of the world a little better. And I just think that really sums up the work that we do in libraries, making the world suck less, right? So that really aligns with one of the trends you'll hear about from the center for the future of libraries, which is that idea of collective impact. That if we all want to make a difference, we can't do it in isolation. We have to agree on what the biggest problems are that are facing us. And we have to all work in the same direction to actually have an impact in this area. So we've really taken this idea to heart at the New York Library Association. We've created a sustainability initiative. So over the past four years, we've been developing resources and tools for our peers which is a really volunteers group. I'm a volunteer, as are my 20 committee members who do this work. We've created something called the Road Map to Sustainability which is free for anyone, not just New Yorkers. You could download it right after this webinar. It's available as a PDF, as a print booklet, or you can get the mobile app that we had developed and have it right on your tablet or phone. But the road map, the idea here is that it defined some basic terms about sustainability, kind of like we did here today. That gives you a space to start gathering your own thinking about how these issues impact your work. Wherever you happen to land in a library or what role you have at the library, the structure cohesively define your vision for a sustainable future that your library contributes to. You can sign up for our newsletter if you'd like to, again, no charge. And we also have-- we're about to launch nationally a sustainable library certification program because we would go out and do these presentations and talk about these big ideas and how important it was and people would be so excited and I have a huge line of people waiting to talk to me afterwards. They'd be like Rebekkah, I'm in, what do I do next? And I'm like, wow, there's like 10,000 things you could do next, where should you start? So our team put together a certification program that methodically walks a library through environmental choices, fiscal choices, and social equity choices from an operational governance and program design perspective. So it's something you can get certified on as an institution as a public library, as an institution as an academic library, and as an individual as a school librarian. So, currently available only in New York, but later next year in 2020, you'll see this announced nationwide. We're partnering with the American Library Association to bring this to all corners of the library world which I'm pretty excited about. So the third-- fourth thing we're working on is something called community change agents where we've actually created a professional development path for real life library leaders to work with real life community leaders and partner up to figure out what they should join up and work on from a collective impact standpoint. So we've done this with four libraries so far. We had a library team up with their mayor. And it was an area that didn't have good broadband connectivity. And through this project, they now have good broadband connectivity which is pretty life changing for a lot of people in that community. So, we're kind of creating a live laboratory to test out how you actually do collective impact work for libraries of all sizes. So if you're interested in knowing more about that, signing up for the newsletter is a good spot to figure out what we're up to, and follow the work that we're doing. If you're interested in learning more about really anything that I've been talking about today, I do maintain a Facebook page because it's where I save all the ideas I like to integrate into my presentations later. So you can kind of see my stream of consciousness, the things that are catching my eye that fit with the model that we're working on with the triple bottom line. So I'm going to pause to maybe let me know, it was important we leave time for questions. But I do want to make sure you have my contact info. I don't know if you can tell but I'm pretty passionate about this kind of stuff. I love hearing from people who are doing work in the library field about your ideas on the topic, things you're already trying, things you want to try in the future. So, I hope you will take the time to connect online and social media. I'm on-- And probably all the social media platforms. And if you run into me in a conference, I hope you'll introduce yourself. But I'll stop talking now and see if there's any questions that you might have or comments you'd like to make. >> Sue Alman: Oh, thank you so much, Rebekkah. That was really informative. While we're on this page, and before other people get their questions ready, and people you can either type them into the chat or we'll let you take your microphones off in a minute. Can you tell us the difference between the two books that you've written that are here at the bottom, the sustainable thinking and the resilience? I know you've talked about those during this presentation, but. >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: Yeah, sure. >> Sue Alman: The focus of them. >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: So in my mind, there's three different phases of capacity for a library. You're either, you're sustainable which if you look up the definition, you have the capacity to endure, which is not very sexy, but it's-- it is the basics. It is the meat and potatoes of actually being a quality library. So sustainable thinking focuses on that aspect of being a sustainable library, of really picking apart why you do what you do, how you get community feedback, how it ties into these bigger ideas of environmental sustainability, and it has worksheets at the end of each chapter to help you capture your thinking or do a little homework that will help inform future decisions you make as a library leader. Resilience is a much shorter, smaller little booklet almost which is part of a series from the future-- the center for the future which Miguel who runs the center for the future identified community resilience issues as a very top trend that libraries need to be thinking about. So that booklet does a little bit of overview of the sustainable thinking model, but takes a much deeper dive into resiliency in terms of how do we build in the ability for our libraries in our communities to bounce back in the face of some shocks to the system we might experience, whether they be from an environmental issue, or a technological issue like hacking and ransomware, or an economic downfall, like we had in 2008 with the recession. So, really just thinking about the elasticity of planning for the future and being more resilient in the face of that. So I'd say they're almost building on each other. I'd recommend you start with "Sustainable Thinking" and then go to "Resilience". >> Sue Alman: Thanks for that clarification. And I'm just going to take over one more question, and I'll let others have it. But we've got a couple faculty here, as well as some students. What would you think would be the best way to inform our students about these different issues of community impact? And how have you-- the two part, the examples that you have of these different libraries did they come to you or did you seek them out? And I'm just wondering, if-- because I know some libraries have done the beekeeping and have done that the urban farming, is that a grassroots thing? Or what can you tell us about that? So I guess, what can we do to prepare our students for these things, you know, a special course and then how are people professionals gaining traction with these different projects? >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: I mean, I might be biased. But I do think some of these issues should be threaded throughout almost every course in a library school program for people who are working on a youth services track or an administration track to really understand the triple bottom line and the impact that the decisions they make wherever they are in the community-- I'm sorry, in the organization. How they make better decisions using these lens of the triple bottom line. Is it a full semester long class? Given how much I talked about it, probably. I think it's a big issue and it's an overwhelming topic for people. So I think as students to see where the entry points are to get started, to have impact, to understand their scope of authority and influence in their library regardless of what their role is and to really understand that bigger vision for what libraries can mean to a community or on a campus or in a school setting. I think it's pretty important to give people context for the work. And to have our traditional library education embedded in that as it's a core value in the future of our profession. So I think that this construct or vision that we have about how we will play a role in the future sustainability of our communities and in the lives of the people that we serve, it really does need to be a core aspect of the development of future library leaders. And we've been focused on that in New York through our leadership and management academy that we have here. And it's been working really well. So now people send me examples of what they're doing and what they're working on. But I'll say that for 20 years, as someone who does a lot of consulting I'm constantly scanning. I'm constantly looking. And I'm reading the journals and I'm watching on social media. And I'm hearing from peers about cool things they're seeing, or I'll ask a bunch of my colleagues like, I'm looking for a library that does something like this, have you seen that? And then what I'm doing is looking for patterns and I'm trying to see, are libraries picking up the pace on something? Is it effective? Because we, you know, we're all library scientists trying to figure out will this work? Will this make a difference? And if we can connect more and share more information about what worked and what didn't, when you figure out what's going on in your community and, you know, this is a challenge facing the people that I serve as a consultant, if I'm able to recall, hey, I've got four examples of another community, it might be out in Oregon. But here's how they manage this, this might work for you. So I just-- I feel like as part of my own professional development to constantly be checking out with other libraries are up to. >> Sue Alman: That's great. I do have one more question. And then I will turn it over. Do you have an example of what an academic library would do? And I can see the school libraries in the public libraries and you gave some really great examples for that. But what our academic library is doing? >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: Yeah, we're seeing academic libraries who are creating subjects specialists in their libraries who are working with professors throughout the university on topics related to sustainability. Most academic institutions themselves, not just the library, but the institution of the university or the college, they are usually more progressive on the topic of environmental sustainability than the public libraries and the school libraries. So I think they actually have a leg up and having campus sustainability teams, and making sure the library is part of that work is something we identified in New York wasn't happening. So not only having services at the library, but being part of that wider campus conversation about sustainability, the choices that university might be making, and how the library plays a role in that helps the library better position itself to be useful to campus administration, to professors who are working on new curriculum related to sustainability, as well as modeling good choices in the administration of the academic library. So it does in a weird way follow the same model as the publics, right? You're leading by example in the library. You're developing services and programs that respond to the needs of professors and students who are making a study of these issues. And you've also got that wider connection with administration who has some very big decisions to make in the future. We-- Our first step for academic libraries and our certification program is to find out if their college or university president has signed the climate pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the footprint of the university and if not, for the library staff to advocate for that for their university which can really change the conversation campus wide. So I think the biggest thing that's across all three types of libraries is that library leaders understand that they can step into a space and be a sustainability leader as well. And they often might be the first person in their institution talking about that which I think brings the library a lot of great attention, raises profile and gives the library more respect in terms of being a future focused leader. >> Sue Alman: You gave me some great ideas. Cheryl, I'll turn it over to you. And then if anybody has a question or comment, please raise your hand or type it in chat. >> Cheryl Stenstrom: Thank you Sue. Thank you Rebekkah so much. What a powerhouse you're great speaker and like Sue said obviously, care deeply about these issues, but also have a huge amount of information to share with everyone and to share it so freely. It's wonderful. I have a question for our students or maybe our recent grads who maybe are thinking about this or thinking, working on this in their first jobs. And I know you said and of course, every library is going to be different, every situation is different. All of the, you know, the issues are inherently local. But would you be able to suggest the top two or three partners that public libraries should be seeking out to further their sustainability efforts within their local communities? If you could give us, you know, kind of in your opinion the ones that are pretty uniform to go after? >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: I think always aligning with your municipality to find out, you know, read their master plan, understand if they've been doing some thinking on the topic of sustainability and how they're thinking about approaching it because hopefully they base their master plan on community input. Sometimes they don't, but if they have, that's a huge amount of market research already done for a library. So what I've noticed in my region is when libraries have done that work and align some of their efforts with their municipality, it has brought great deal of PR for that library, sometimes money to the library. Great example is one of mine, the Kingston Library. They were really paying attention to what the plan-- the town was planning, the city was planning and they have a huge issue with storm water runoff, that they have completely paved surfaces in these-- the whole city. So where does all the water go? And it was becoming a real problem for the storm water management system which wasn't designed for that amount of pavement. And so the town-- the city was focused on that issue. So the library aligned their facility planning with that issue as well saying we're going to be a partner in figuring this problem out. And we'd like to be a demonstration site for how to do landscaping that absorbs more water onto our property. And the city was just so grateful that's another institution recognized the importance of the issue. They came and consulted on it. They got a lot of in kind services from the city, as well as a partial-- part of a main street grant that the city had gotten for themselves. They, unprecedentedly, gave some of that money to the library which is a separate entity. So I think municipalities are really critical. And I think the public schools are really critical to find out what teachers are struggling with to help connect kids with some of these issues. Sometimes they are viewed as politically sensitive, and libraries can help desensitize them. That's one of the biggest fallacies out there that there's all these climate change deniers and they're anti-tax people and they're going to cream you if you talk about this kind of stuff. That is a fallacy. There is less than less people who denied this is an issue. And so that's a big excuse we use sometimes to not expose our kids to some of these issues. But if you ever want to see a very cool speaker on the topic of sustainability, Rebekkah Miller who's the executive editor of Library Journal and School Library Journal, she speaks so eloquently about inviting children to do this work with us to help problem solve for the future with us right now. Not waiting till they're 16 or 18, but right now. And to introduce the issues, help them understand why it is the way it is, and ask them to get creative about it. So municipalities and schools, really natural partners in some of this work and really, I think, pays off for the library to demonstrate leadership with those two entities. And then you'll find, I think, more niche agencies depending on where you are in the country. You might have Environmental Conservation Department or Resource Recovery Department that could be a natural partner in some of this work, but that varies from region to region in the country I've discovered. >> Cheryl Stenstrom: Wonderful, thank you. Deborah, I can see that you've had your hand up. Do you want to grab the mic? >> Deborah Hicks: Yeah, and it actually the question I have bounces really nicely, I think Rebekkah off of what you were just talking about. In your presentation, you use that really great example of everybody working in the same direction that had those really vivid images. I was just talk-- wondering if you could talk a bit more about how you do that, particularly around sustainability that has, you know, this-- as you said this sort of the feel of controversy around it even though it's not a particularly controversial topic. But it is something that, you know, sort of, you know, it's a little sometimes it can feel-- what regardless of the initiative you're trying to do, sometimes it can feel a bit like herding cats. And so I was just wondering if you could talk a bit about how you do that. >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: I think the-- in my experience, first you have to identify if you're the right agency to be in the lead on something. You have to be a very good environmental scan to understand who else might be doing work in that area or thinking in that area and then deciding, what is your role as an institution or library leader? Is it to join a group that's already doing some of that work? Is it to convene several groups that are doing the work in isolation and get them all together? Is it to actually identify what we should be working on? Sometimes communities are all over the place and not focused enough. Really cool example here in New York from the Rochester Public Library in Central New York, where the entire community from the mayor, to the schools, to the library, and all the other social services agencies agreed the number one thing we should work on is alleviating childhood poverty. And they have gone at it with a vengeance from every angle they can think of. So it could be-- I think three of-- it could be any of those three models where you have to figure out where to kind of jump into the stream and find your way forward to be part of collective action. I will, if I could just amend that. I would say that the library transforming communities tools from the American Library Association, particularly the turning outwards tool kit which is freely available on ALA's website, we use that like crazy here in my system. We use it to help our libraries figure out what the key issues are and who the key players are, which helps libraries do strategic planning and figuring out where to direct their efforts. So if you want to talk about doing it from the ground up, that's an amazing place to start. >> Deborah Hicks: Thank you. >> Cheryl Stenstrom: I see we've got one question, Rebekkah, in the chat. I know we're right again at the top of the hour. So I understand some people might have to sign out. We'll continue recording for another minute or two. And I'll ask if you've got the time to address this question. I think there's just so many that we have taken up all of your time without even realizing it. So would that be OK if you just stay for another minute to answer question that's shown up in the chat? >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: Yeah, absolutely. >> Cheryl Stenstrom: OK, and then after that we will wrap it up. And suggest people can follow up with you if they have further questions because this is such an exciting topic. So the question comes from Karen. And she says it seems like local churches also need to work on sustainability. Have you seen successful partnerships of the library and churches maybe in the areas of using educational programs such as new technology use or helping the homeless? >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: I'm so glad you asked that question. So Karen, one of the cool things I've seen is that the Pope has come out as an environmentalist and has called on the-- his Catholic parishioners to take climate change seriously and to work locally to figure this out. So there is a call in the religious community to do work in this area. I can't point to any examples of programming per se that's being done in conjunctions. So, I think many libraries are careful. Public Libraries, at least, careful not to be seen as sectarian but I am seeing churches being invited to meetings. They weren't invited to before on collective impact projects. So oddly enough tomorrow, in here in New York, we're piloting a new statewide program called The Great Give Back. And you can learn more about it at the But it's encouraging our every library in the state. And this is our pilot year and we got to 20% of our libraries which was way beyond our goal. But we've got 20% of our libraries in the whole state doing community service projects which are taking all types of shapes and forms. And I found one actually just last week where they partnered with a local church to do a food and coat drive. So I think you've got community-minded people who care about their neighbors. And again, just like the example with the first responders, they want to make the world a better place and they're using their church as the platform to do so, just like we use our libraries to do it, just like the first responders use their firehouse to do it. >> Cheryl Stenstrom: Thank you, Rebekkah. Wonderful. I, again, I hate to cut us off but we're now pushing beyond the hour and I know you're incredibly busy. That's clear from the work that you've shared with us. On behalf of the Leadership and Management Committee at the iSchool, we want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us today, for allowing us to record this so that people can download it and hear it for months and years to come. And for being, again, so generous to share in sharing the wealth of information that you've accumulated over the decades that you've been working on this and showing your absolute expertise in this area. It's very inspirational. So, thank you so much, Rebekkah and thank you everyone for coming to our live recording. And hopefully, we will see other people in the downloads. >> Rebekkah Smith Aldrich: Cool. Thanks for having me.