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Take note librarians everywhere – community engagement and library spaces

Here is a perfect example of community engagement in library space creation – from the Forest County Potawatomi Cultural Center, Library and Museum. They have generously shared a video documenting the creation of this incredible mural. The video is 19 minutes long, and worth every minute. A description of the project and the story told through the mural panels is also provided. What a meaningful and beautiful accomplishment – by all involved. Wow!


The Working Together Project

The Working Together Project focuses on examining and developing tools to support public libraries in more effectively meeting the needs of the underserved and socially excluded. On the project website, it states that:

Libraries remain primarily successful in serving the middle-class while the disadvantaged, the non-literate and those from marginal social circumstances do not necessarily feel welcome and do not feel that the services provided are for them. A substantial body of literature going back to the Royal Commission on Poverty and further demonstrates that government offices, schools and hospitals/doctor’s offices are frightening and alien to many who are disadvantaged in society. Libraries are perhaps less intimidating but still not comfortable places for many socially excluded people.

The Project has recently released a very impressive resource, The Community-Led Libraries Toolkit. It provides a lot of sound advice and examples from community development librarians throughout the country and could be of benefit to many libraries.

Those of us who work for the members of our communities who are traditionally underserved by and underrepresented in libraries know that community involvement is essential to librarianship.  In order for us to better serve the traditionally underserved, we need to engage, engage, engage. I think that oftentimes we forget that our community members are the experts! We librarians and library workers are the facilitators.

Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops) awarded $18M for new library and First Nations House of Learning!

What a nice press release to read…support for First Nations learning spaces and libraries! To top it off, the new building will be built to LEED gold certification standards! Kudos to the TRU and BC government.

For more information, read the press release.

My place of work…check it out!

I’m seeing more and more listserv discussions, conference presentations, and conferences focused on greening libraries. I wholeheartedly support this direction and look forward to seeing more libraries taking the steps to do so, not only in their day-to-day operations, but in their capital projects.

I’m happy to say that I work for a green organization, the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources. Not only do we take a green approach to our operations (and have for many years now), but have had a green office since 1999! We were the first heritage building in Manitoba (and potentially Canada) to have composting toilets (from Clivus Multrum). If you haven’t read about them, you should. They are great and you might be surprised to find out that they aren’t outhouses!

In addition to the composting toilets, our building renovation of 1999 included the following green implementations:

  • Compact fluorescent lighting
  • Straw board millwork from Isobord (unfortunately no longer in business)
  • EcoLogo certified paint
  • Recyclable carpet tile from Interface Flooring
  • Ceramic flooring made with post-consumer glass from TerraGreen Ceramics

Check out our Green Office Renovation website to find out more and see lots of photos.

I’m also happy to report that CIER hopes to do another heritage building green development project. To find out more, visit the CIER website and our Flickr photo tour of the building and our plans.

New report: Welcoming Places – Ideas for public library services for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders

A new report was recently released by the State Library of Queensland entitled “Welcoming Places: Ideas for Public Library Services for Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders“. It outlines the results of their Listen Here! project, that focused on documenting ideas and case studies for improving library services for Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. Lots of food for thought in this report.

Green Libraries – LEED Certified Libraries

Please refer to the Green Libraries page of my blog for a growing list of libraries going green. Here’s some background information that is good to know if you’re library is taking positive steps to becoming green. 

In 1994, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) created The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.  LEED (description taken from the LEED website):

“is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

LEED provides a roadmap for measuring and documenting success for every building type and phase of a building lifecycle.”

In Canada, the organization to visit is the Canada Green Building Council.

There are four levels of LEED certification that buildings can apply for:

  • Certified – 40-50% of non-innovation points
  • Silver – 50-60%
  • Gold – 60-80%
  • Platinum – over 80%

Check out these forward thinking libraries with LEED certification or striving to achieve it! More are listed on the Green and Greening Libraries page of my blog.



Also, a new site to check out is Green Libraries