Western Washington University has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability though the signing of the University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and the establishment of a campus Office of Sustainability (OS). WWU is also a member of the American Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and home of the highly-regarded Huxley College of the Environment. Consequently, Western Libraries’ involvement with sustainability efforts supports the organizational goals of the University, and contributes to the cultivation of Western’s institutional identity.
Western Libraries’ currentstrategic plan emphasizes the desire to develop and strengthen opportunities for partnerships throughout the campus and the community, and it also articulates the need for creating and maintaining “sustainable” physical and virtual environments that can “enhance barrier-free access, a diversity of scholarship, and the pursuit of life-long learning by the citizens of Washington State.”
Libraries are founded on principles of sustainability in that they seek to provide equal access to information for all people, and they do this by sharing and re-using resources. In addition, academic libraries are interdisciplinary in nature, which means they are both the physical and virtual meeting place for every department and discipline on campus. Western Libraries’ mission statement explains our potential role in helping strengthen WWU’s campus commitment to sustainability: “Western Libraries connects: people to people, people to place, people to learning.”
A sustainable community requires connections, and “connections mean relationships with human beings." A sustainable community relies on and creates strong and lasting bonds between people and institutions, and these relationships and bonds are what ultimately determine how “sustainable” something truly is.[i]
Western Libraries’ “Sustainability Team” was officially created in March 2012, with the goal of exploring opportunities for collaborating with students on a Green Energy Fee (GEF) grant project proposal, and developing a relationship with the Office of Sustainability so that we could become more involved with sustainability efforts at WWU. The Office of Sustainability has been an invaluable resource for Western Libraries by partnering with various library and Learning Commons departments to assist us with our participation in the Sustainable Office Certification Program, in addition to being a constant source of help, encouragement, and inspiration. We look forward to continuing to work closely with them, and hope we can provide support for all of the good work they are doing.
[i] Barbakoff, A. and Barbakoff B. (2012). Building Green: Sustainable Thinking Goes Beyond Green to Unite Library Space and Community. Greening Libraries, (ed. by Antonelli, M. and McCullough), M. Los Angeles: Library Juice Press).