Sustainable Librarianship: Core Competencies and Practices

Climate change and environmental destruction are a code red for humanity and are this generation’s grandest challenge. In 2019, ALA Council added “Sustainability” as a core value of the profession, adopting the triple bottom line definition of sustainability to ensure balanced decision-making that respects environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic feasibility. As community leaders and facilitators, libraries should be modeling sustainable practices among their staff and within their facilities.

In this special eCourse, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, President of the Sustainable Libraries Initiative, will lead you through the principles and practices of sustainable librarianship along with a group of expert speakers, lecturers and writers. 

Our ability to pull together as neighbors and adapt in the face of what is already happening while lessening the severity of the impacts for future generations will require us to think differently, to adopt a new mindset, and to consider decisions—large and small—through the lens of sustainability. Libraries of all types are perfectly positioned to help with and to lead in this work. We must step up in this moment and find ways to lead by example and inspire those we serve with and for to do the same.

After participating in this course:

  • Students will have a strong understanding of the “triple bottom line” definition of sustainability as adopted by the American Library Association as a Core Value of Librarianship. 
  • Students will be able to accurately describe operational decisions, services, programs, and partnerships their library is already undertaking that better position their institutions as sustainability leaders
  • Using the “sustainable thinking” model, students will be able to make operational decisions as well as design new services, programs, and partnerships to ensure their institutions are relevant and responsive in the face of the impacts of climate change. 
  • Students will understand the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the context of climate justice.

Rebekkah Smith Aldrich (MLS, LEED AP) is the Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System (NY) and the co-founder/current president of the Sustainable Libraries Initiative (SLI). For over twenty years, Rebekkah has worked with public libraries across the globe to ensure library services are relevant and responsive so that our communities thrive. Rebekkah is an active member of the American Library Association (ALA), most recently chairing their new Council Committee on Sustainability; serving on the board of the Center for the Future of Libraries; and was a founding board member of their Sustainability Round Table. Rebekkah was recognized as a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2010 and was presented with the New York Library Association's Outstanding Service to Libraries Award in 2018. Aldrich is an adjunct professor at the Palmer School of Library & Information Science at Long Island University, serves as Library Journal's Sustainability columnist, and has written three books for ALA Editions: Sustainable Thinking; Resilience; and Libraries and Sustainability: Programs and Practices for Community Impact. Rebekkah is a frequent national and international presenter and writer on the topic of leading libraries forward in smart, practical, and effective ways.

If you have questions or requests regarding accessibility, contact us at ce@ala.org or at 312-280-5100.