Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Retiring The Green Shelf in Order to Redirect Our Efforts

When we started this sustainability blog on behalf of Western Libraries back in 2013, it was partly because we wanted to make the connection between libraries and sustainability education & resources more explicit. Two years later, we feel we have been able to do just that, but we also see the value in trying to integrate this same objective more holistically into our our existing communication channels.

True to our mission (Western libraries connects--people to people, people to place, people to learning), we still want to help facilitate and strengthen all of these connections, including those related to sustainability, and we plan on doing so every chance we get. However, rather than continue to post on this stand-alone site, we have decided to utilize our other institutional communication channels, including our library "news" and "features" options, to share updates and stories about Western Libraries and sustainability. We also hope to better utilize our other social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, (where we have a larger built-in audience) to inform people about available sustainability resources.

This means that as much as we have enjoyed producing this blog and as much as we have valued the opportunities to share information with you all on this particular platform, we have decided to retire The Green Shelf so we can be more effective in redirecting our energies, still mindful of and committed to the same motivation and sense of purpose  that inspired us to create this blog.

We will leave The Green Shelf up for now but will no longer be posting any updates to this site. We thank everyone who has supported and read this blog these past two years, and we hope you will continue to engage with us, both online and in person here at Western Libraries.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Environment, c/o the EPA

Here's a neat website from the EPA.  Go to MyEnvironment and you can get a heap of environmental data about your city, your county, even your zip code!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Natural Hazards Observer

We don't usually blog here over the summer unless something timely comes up.  I wanted to point out the latest issue of one of my favorite newsletters: The Natural Hazards Observer.  This month it is all about using art to recover from disasters.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Until the fall

Have a great and sustainable summer!  And remember: "A book has low carbon impact, if you don’t drive while you read.” - Carol Berry

Eva Gonzalès [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 1, 2015

Move Out Madness!

From Western's Office of Sustainability:

Move-Out Madness, June 12th from 12-5pm! Bring your unwanted items including landfill, recyclables, donation items, and non-perishable food to these neighborhood locations:
  • York- Franklin Park; 400 Block of Whatcom St.
  • Sehome- Laurel Park; Laurel & Indian St.
  • Happy Valley- Gravel Parking lot; 26th & Douglas
Open to all WWU Students, ID required.
Responsible resources for the madness of moving out.
Please respond if you are interested in volunteering to help students sort.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Can academia help the environment?

Interesting new ebook, available for free.  

Abstract : Twenty-first-century conservationists are contending with biodiversity loss on an unprecedented scale, compounded by the interrelated threat of climate change. These global challenges call for first-rate talent, highly sophisticated technology, and advanced financial and organizational tools that can be used across jurisdictional boundaries and professional disciplines. Academic institutions—from colleges and universities to research institutes and field stations—are surprisingly powerful and effective catalysts for integrating all these elements into strategically significant and enduring large landscape conservation initiatives. This edited volume gathers more than a dozen first-hand accounts of the long-term impacts academics are making on the ground, from the University of Nairobi to Harvard. With measurable results, their efforts are protecting wildlife habitat, improving water quality, building sustainable economies, and bettering public amenities around the world now and for centuries to come.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Solving a work problem with wheels

When your office is half a mile from your files, how do you solve the problem?  With a three-wheeled bicycle in a limestone cave.  Your National Archives at work! 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Happy Bike To Work Day!

Friday, May 15 is Bike to Work and School Day.  

  “The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” - Peter Golkin

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Green Energy Fee Annual Showcase is TODAY!

The Office of Sustainability and the Green Energy Fee (GEF) Grant Program invite everyone to join them in celebrating the wonderful accomplishments of the GEF Grant Program.

Come meet this year’s applicants and learn about their projects at the GEF Annual Showcase TODAY! Wednesday, May 13th from 4-5:30pm in the Miller Hall Collaborative Space. More details are here:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Environmental Journalism: high points and low

Interesting article in the Columbia Journalism Review.  Environmental journalism is getting notice - as in Pulitzer Prizes, for example, but there are plenty of problems in the field...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sustainability Event May 5th - Charles Krusekopf

Dr. Charles Krusekopf
Just  letting you all know about a sustainability-related event happening today (May 5th) at 7:00pm that may be of interest. Dr. Charles Krusekopf, executive director of the American Center for Mongolian studies & director of the Royal Roads University School of Business in Victoria, British Columbia, will be giving a talk in the Library Presentation room (Wilson Library 164f) entitled: "Natural Resource Development in Mongolia - Impacts on Culture, Environment, and Government."

 Since the mid-2000s the Mongolian economy has boomed, fueled by the development of the coal, copper and gold mining industries. The development of major mines by multi-national corporations and a gold rush involving thousands of artisanal miners across Mongolia has upset traditional ways of living, leading to disputes over land and water. New mining projects and infrastructure have impacted wildlife, destroyed archeological sites and displaced local people. Corruption has grown and democracy has been undermined as politicians seek to benefit personally from their power to allocate mining rights. This session will examine the impact the natural resource boom over the last decade has had on Mongolia’s political system and government, the natural environment, and tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

This event is being offered as part of WWU's two-day "Mongolia Days" celebration. For more information about Mongolia Days, see this link.

Mongolia Days are sponsored by Western Libraries, Woodring College of Education, the Center for East Asian Studies, and the Center for International Studies. Programs are made possible by the generous support from Henry G. Schwarz, John C. Street, and Susan Bradbury.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Renewables - Made in Germany

In case you hadn't heard, Western's Institute for Energy Studies is hosting a fascinating poster exhibit in Academic West from now through May 7th about Germany and their global leadership in the development of renewable energy.

 According to a piece written by Jake Parrish  that was published in Western Today, the full-color posters are on loan from the Consulate General of Germany, and have information about solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and renewable energy in buildings. For more information, you can read about this exhibit here and here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eighty Years of Dust

The new issue of the Natural Hazards Observer is out and the main feature is a long article comparing the great Dust Bowl ("one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in American history") to the current drought in the midwest.  Fascinating stuff.

Also articles about helping musicians recover from Katrina in New Orleans, and using a high school football team to focus hurricane recovery efforts.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sustainable food and water too

I hope you all know about the Hydration Station in Wilson Library (turn left when you leave Zoe's Bookside Bagels and keep walking until you see it on your right).  Besides a place to fill your water bottles we also have displays of information about sustainability activities on campus (contact Clarissa or Rob if you want to add something).  AND we have a small bookcase there with a themed assortment of books and videos.  Winter quarter the subject was sustainable design (the books on sustainable fashion were very popular).  This quarter: sustainable food.  You can check these books out so take one to lunch!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Connecting Communities

Often when we talk about sustainability, we talk about how communities can become more sustainable. What are the things we can do to help each other and how can these things help foster sustainability in our every-day lives?

The week of April 11th through April 18th at WWU is a special week devoted to highlighting some of the things that demonstrate how we at Western are "Active Minds Changing Lives," and sustainability is a common theme that runs throughout many of the activities planned during this period.

 Active Minds Changing Lives Week @WWU

One such example of this is something sponsored by the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA). In 2014, TLA proposed the creation of a trust-building event in response to the BIG question, “How do we ignite individual passion, purpose, and potential to co-create a culture of trust?” As a result, they come up with the idea of planning some activities to feature and highlight "Connecting Communities," and these upcoming events are also being featured as part of Active Minds Changing Lives Week.

 Connecting Communities Launch (Monday, April 13)
Faculty and staff may drop by Wilson Library 270 anytime between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to learn how they can volunteer with various organizations within Whatcom County. Individuals will also have an opportunity to sign up for a service event on Friday, April 17. Light refreshments will be served.

Connecting Communities Day of Service (Friday, April 17)
On Friday, April 17th, faculty and staff may join their colleagues in a day of service. This is also a wonderful opportunity to use Community Service Leave available for Professional staff and classified staff. Service projects are available on- and off-campus, and can select from a variety of volunteer sites. Projects range from creating a short film for the Family Meals Project, to assisting Tara Perry’s class with assembling backpacks for the homeless. For a full list of service projects, please see the TLA events page

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The new Federal Sustainability Plan

The White House has just announced a new federal plan for sustainability.   "This new sustainability plan for the next decade directs federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025. That means big cuts to the dangerous emissions driving climate change – and also big savings. In addition to 21 million metric tons of emission reductions – the same as taking 4.2 million cars of the road for a year — achieving this goal will save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs between 2008 and 2025,"

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Have you seen the CEDAR?

I don't think we have talked about CEDAR here.  CEDAR is WWU's institutional repository, which is library jargon for a digital storeroom for a university's research products.

Articles and books by professors, staff, and sometimes students are easily accessible through CEDAR.  The coolest part is that if you go to the CEDAR page you can watch - in real time! - as people all over the world download research done at Western.   A writer friend of mine in New York called it "a slow video game for nerds," and admitted she watched it way too long.

But this is a blog about sustainability, so, here are the top five most-downloaded articles if you search CEDAR for: sustainability

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Wilson Library and Sustainability

Carol Berry from Western's Office of Sustainability presents the Tutoring
 Center with their award, February 2015.

On February 5th, the Tutoring Center and the Map Collection, both housed in Wilson Library, were awarded "Sustainable Office Certification." The Sustainable Office Certification program (SOC) is offered through Western's Office of Sustainability, and participation in the program creates opportunities for departments and offices here at Western to protect the environment, conserve resources, and promote safety and health through the measurement and recognition of sustainable practices that are adopted in the workplace. 

Members of the TLA Team receiving their award in 2013.

The Map Collection was first inspired to pursue Sustainable Office Certification after both Western Libraries Circulation Services and the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) achieved certification in 2013. The recent certification of both the Tutoring Center and the Map Collection has subsequently inspired other Learning Commons partners and library departments to also consider participating in this program. 

"I would love it if we could take a look at certification for all of the areas of the library and Learning Commons in both Wilson Library and Haggard Hall. It would be great if we could come together and do this in a unified way, and perhaps even become a model for other buildings on campus to work towards," said Map Collection Manager, Dennis Matthews.

Members of the Map Collection with their award, February 2015.

There are resources and toolkits available online through the Office of Sustainability for anyone who is interested in participating in this program. Matthews explained that the certification process is very straightforward, and that the checklist helps participants become more aware of easily-adoptable small actions which turn into natural habits.
In using the checklist, Map Collection staff were able to recognize sustainable practices they had already adopted, as well as identify new practices that could easily be implemented.

"There were some things already done for us, like the lights in the Map Collection already being connected to motion sensors, but there were other things we realized we could implement easily, like printing double-sided, turning off our monitors, little things like that. Carol Berry in the Office of Sustainability was really helpful, as were the TLA students who also advised us," stated Matthews.

An example of artists Emma Nestvold's art,
 made from discarded maps

Other operational practices in the Map Collection include recycling, using compostable materials, and "up-cycling" maps that would otherwise have been discarded. Maps that are not needed in the Map Collection are first offered to other libraries located both regionally and globally, and then leftover maps are given away to the public. Students at Western have been particularly innovative with these maps, using them for decoration, wrapping paper, and even art projects. Several years ago, a student and artist named Emma Nestvold transformed some of these maps into beautiful works of art that were on display in one of the library art galleries.

While there are a number of benefits to participating in the Sustainable Office Certification Program, one of the positive outcomes that many people may not expect is that participation in the program can also help instill a sense of meaning, purpose, and connection in the everyday actions and routines that make up our daily work-lives.
"When you participate in this program, you not only become more aware of your environment, but also of how your actions affect and connect you to others. It helps you build a sense of community because you feel like you are working towards something a little bit bigger than yourself," stated Matthews.

Click here to learn more about the SOC Program. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Contractors vs Farmers and everybody wins.... go figure

Amazing story from Missouri.  People farmed airport-owned land for thirty-five years.  The new owners came along and...improved the deal?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Taking bicycles seriously in London

Mitt Romney famously had a house with a car elevator but this is the first time I ever heard of a building with a bicycle elevator. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Map Collection Open House

When you walk into Zoe's for a bagel do you know there are 150,000 maps below your feet?  Come to Western's Map Collection (Wilson Library 170) next Wednesday between 2 and 4 PM for a tour of our newly renovated digs with extra group study space, and samples of our most interesting maps. 

If you are a hiker, we have trail maps.  If you are studying land use over time we have topos.  Etc. Etc.  Come see!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Natural Hazards Observer

The January issue of the Natural Hazards Observer is online.  Interesting article on the fracking controversy in New York state.

Monday, February 2, 2015

GEF Idea Labs

In case you missed the January GEF Idea Labs, don't worry! There are still chances to go in February and March. As you know, Western Libraries is a HUGE fan of the Green Energy Fee Grant Program. If you want to learn more about this program, or if you have an idea for a sustainable project on campus, check out one of the idea labs for information and inspiration! During these labs you can also learn more about the application process and you will have a chance to ask questions. All sessions are held in the Viking Union (VU) room 460. Upcoming sessions dates / times  are listed below:

February 2nd 4-5pm
February 9th 4-5pm
February 20th 3-4pm
February 23rd 1-2pm
March 2nd 4-5pm

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sustainable Transportation Newsletter

The winter issue of the sustainable Transportation Newsletter is up and running.  And who is up for a little winter biking on February 13?